Crying Over Courgettes


While shopping for groceries in Co-op, a sign greeted me at the vegetable section: “Sorry. There’s currently a shortage of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, peppers & tomatoes, and we may run out.” While I had heard something about a lack of courgettes, apparently a bunch of vegetables had been hit by the “flooding in Spain” – the south-eastern part of Spain, supplying 80% of Europe’s fresh produce during the winter months has suffered the heaviest rainfall in 30 years – and “bad weather throughout Europe” – low temperatures in Italy resulted in that country having to import vegetables rather than their normal export – that had resulted in the Co-op having to apologise for these vegetables being out of stock.

To be honest, a “vegetable crisis” or “vegetable rationing” sound very dystopian. The end of the world has come, and all that’s left to eat are some buts of a carrot. After reading upset posts from friends unable to make their courgette soup because of this terrible shortage, I found that the vegetable section of my supermarket actually still seemed very full. I can’t help but thinking these outcries over the “vegetable crisis” are a very first-world-problem. There’s maybe no lettuce, but there are still sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, peas, kale, cucumber, just to name a few.

However, for many people, it is probably one of the first times in their lives that they have been confronted with not being able to buy exactly what they want for the price they are used to. Rather than being upset over a doubling or even tripling of the price of a certain vegetable, as is the case in many supermarkets, isn’t it better to ask yourself how realistic it is to demand any vegetable any time of the year? We don’t have to go back to the situation of my gran growing up, when only cabbage, carrot, potato and onion were the only vegetables available in rural Ireland, but it’s worth trying to eat locally and seasonally. Especially considering climate change, which will increase temperature, reduce water availability and make extreme weather like we’re seeing in Spain occur more often, “crises” like these will happen more and more often.  Perhaps it’s an idea to stop taking the car to five different supermarkets on the hunt for courgettes, but cycle to a farmers’ market and enjoy a lovely beet, swede or turnip from the UK.

[Aike Jansen]

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