You may have heard how floods and storms in the Mediterranean this winter have created a shortage of vegetables, leading to supermarkets having to cap how many a customer can buy.
Horrific floods on the south-eastern coast of Spain, which took the lives of five people before Christmas, have led to poor growing conditions. Freezing temperatures followed the floods across Spain and Italy, wreaking further havoc on crops. This was made worse by the area of Murcia suffering its largest snowfall for decades. Problems draining the land as the thaw set in meant people could not get back out there to grow more crops.
As a result, vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, aubergines and tomatoes have come up short, and, as well as now being rationed, the prices in supermarkets have gone up. Even Morrisons, who source many of their products from its own farms or direct from farmers, have had to raise their prices and cap the number sold to customers because cafes and restaurants are turning to them to bulk buy.
This, if anything, highlights why farmers like Ray from Ray’s Veg, and Helen from Linscombe Farm, are so essential to our community here in Somerset. Not only do they produce more-nutritional vegetables, their produce is not affected by conditions on the continent and they are independent of the fluctuations driving supermarket prices.
Locally-grown, freshly-picked vegetables are available at Taunton Farmers Market every week, from lettuce to leeks, cabbage to kale, as well as winter salad vegetables, and a host of delicious root vegetables packed with truly nutritious flavour. If you take advantage of a Veg Box, you can even get your weekly supply delivered to your door!
Of course, local farmers don’t stop at vegetables. Charlton Orchards have a range of traditional apple varieties, hand-picked from Creech-St-Michael, and Ray also produces free-range chicken and duck eggs. Other producers bring locally-produced cheeses, butter, pork, beef, chicken and even venison. Freshly-made cakes, quiches and pies, as well as gluten-free and vegan goodies are available on a weekly basis. All our producers are independent of supermarket influences, and use a hand-reared, grown or hand-made approach. None of that factory stuff.
By supporting your local farmer’s market, and buying locally-produced food, you not only gain the advantage of a healthier diet, you reduce your impact on the planet and improve the area’s sustainability. We live in a wonderful county, and the diversity and quality of our produce proves it. More to the point, even when there’s more Rain in Spain than they can cope with, there’s no vegetable shortage here.