Would you buy an apple with a skin blemish or a parsnip that was not the right shade of ‘parsnip’? This one is worth ranting about, it makes my blood boil. It has been reported in the press again and again over the last decade, so I decided to ask a few farmers if things had improved, I was not impressed with the answers.
This is what one farmer had to say:
“It is ridiculous what is put in my feed trailer for my livestock. On one occasion there was a trailer full of parsnips that had already been”perfected”, packed, bagged and sent to the supermarket only to be returned to the producer because they were not the right shade of parsnip colour.”
You really have to ask at this point whether the world has gone completely mad but who is to blame for this insanity, is it the producers, the buyers for supermarkets or the us ‘the purchasers’?
Of course the producers grow the fruit and veg, they would be more than happy if we would buy natural shaped produce, so they are not to blame in the slightest. In fact many producers go out of business through this craziness, with entire crops being rejected due to colour or shape.
That leaves the blame game between the large buyers and the end consumer, us. A Tesco spokesperson was reported to say “any misshapen fresh produce gets left and we cannot sell it”. As much as I love to blame fat cat corporations for all the evils in the world, on this occasion I find I am unable to.
I do not believe the large supermarkets are blameless, they want their shelves of regimented produce to look pristine, with rows of colour co-ordinated carrots and parsnips and over the years they have convinced us that this is what we want (along with the sweets at the tills, the latest diet products and cereal full of salt).
However, go into any big supermarket and watch shoppers sifting through the produce to find the pick of the crop. They will squeeze, prod, sniff and examine in minute detail. A bag of apples with a skin blemish on one will be rejected, a sack of potatoes that are not perfectly formed will be left forlorn.
We have become the driving force in this insanity. We have stopped buying locally and do our weekly shop in the big supermarkets, driving supermarkets into wars for our custom, each trying to provide ‘better’ produce than their competitors.
However, we can also be the solution. Support your local farmers, use farmers markets and accept that apples sometimes have blemishes but still taste good, parsnips come in a variety of shades and potatoes come out of the ground in all sorts of funny shapes. Use local fruit and veg shops that buy directly from farmers or farmers markets. This will not only support British farming but also our environment because the less food has to travel the less pollution is pumped into the air.
Let’s get back to the days of enjoying our shopping, buy fresh instead of tinned and cook a real meal. Support local shops and farmers before supermarkets take over the world. Stop seeing the weekly shop as a chore, food is what sustains us and we should take pride in selectively shopping for ourselves and our family.
How often do we hear another local shop is closing and the locals are getting up a petition to save it!! Hello, if the locals had used the local shop it would not be closing.
Do you have a garden, then take some exercise and grow some veg, nothing tastes as good as home grown veg and you will get a sense of achievement doing it.