Forget Mexican walls, Article 50 or Parliamentary dissent, the major talking point of 2017 so far has to be vegetables and the lack of.
First it was spinach, then courgettes, now we are told all manner of salad products are in danger of being off limits to dinner plates after rain caused havoc on the plains of Spain.
For the first time since June there has been a European crisis which not even the most ardent of remainers can blame on Brexit. It could spell potential disaster for slimming clubs everywhere because, armed with the excuse that there isn’t an iceberg to be found within sweating distance, millions of well intentioned part time dieters might be forced to dig out the chip pan instead.
For chubsters like me salad is either a treat one feeds to the kids’ pet rabbit or something which usually makes an appearance as an (often untouched) garnish during a visit to the steakhouse, but the hysteria around a food ‘shortage’ is always something to behold.
Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, supermarkets are on a permanent hiding to nothing as an empty shelf always makes a great status update but in the past couple of weeks fruit and veg aisles have made gloomy pictures.
Some stores have taken the slightly ridiculous step of rationing lettuces to three per customer, although if it is anything like our house, they will all roll to the back of the fridge and stay there until they turn yellow. There were even reports of one digital Del Boy offering a box of icebergs for £50, 10 times the asking price, prompting journalists to write about a lettuce black market. We were told to expect a further shortage of ‘favourites’ such as rocket, lollo rossa (I think she was in EastEnders), cauliflower, peppers and citrus fruit among others. We may have to endure this ‘misery’ until April. We are a nation of inveterate panickers: the moment a snowflake falls there are hour long queues at petrol stations while every loaf of sliced white is gathered up on Christmas Eve before shops shut their doors for a whole 24 hours. I have found myself agreeing with e Alan Titchmarsh who said the shortage should serve as a reminder for us to buy seasonal British products such as root veg. He said we have ‘lost the joy of anticipating’ summer fruit and vegetables.
Gone are the days when mother would boil up enough soup to feed a small army for a month, if we can’t get our hands on a kumquat in February then it really is the end of our gilded 21st Century existence.
We have to face the fact that whether you live in Dundee or Dover you don’t have a divine right to be eating soft fruit while it is still going dark at four in the afternoon. Although I do regularly succumb to pester power, I resent having to pay over the odds for overpriced, tasteless strawberries shipped in from Egypt. The ridiculous fuss being made of the fact that we are unable to get our hands on non-essential food items for a couple of months is perhaps the most damning indictment of modern life for quite some time.