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Flooding, cold weather, and poor light levels mainly in Italy and Spain have caused a shortage of some vegetables in UK supermarkets.  In winter months, Spain’s Murcia region supplies 80 per cent of Europe’s fresh produce,  but the area has suffered its heaviest rainfall in 30 years – meaning 70 per cent of the growing fields are not useable.  Italy is having to import vegetables that they would normally export at this time of year.

Iceberg lettuces, courgettes, broccoli, cabbage and spinach are in short supply, and some supermarkets have put rationing in place to prevent panic buying and restaurateurs buying up all the stock.  The price of courgettes is now sky-high, and there are also shortages of aubergines, tomatoes and peppers.

When I went to my local supermarket last Friday morning I could see that every customer was limited to taking only 3 heads of broccoli.  As I usually buy only 2 every week, the rationing didn’t really affect me, but I noticed that most people who entered the shop made straight for the vegetable section and took their 3 heads of broccoli straight away.  This made me wonder whether these people always bought so much broccoli every week, or whether they were buying it all up because it was rationed.

I never lived through WWII, and so have only experienced food rationing in the winter of 1973/4.  Mum at the time told me that nobody needed sugar or needed to eat loads of bread, and so she never queued up to buy any.  Sam’s mother, with 5 children to feed, apparently had 27 loaves in her freezer!  Sam to this day reckons that his mother started the bread shortage and the sugar shortage too, as she had outhouses stocked full of those little 2 pound bags of addiction.

During the war, my grandmother would take her ration book to the local shop and obtain the set amount of food per person. Then she would go home, rub out the shopkeeper’s marks, and a few days later send my mother to the shop for another load.  Apparently this was very common, and most people in the area were doing it as well.  I’ve no idea how the shopkeeper didn’t catch on to what his customers were up to!

So, we’re going to be short of veggies for a while, probably until the end of April.  It won’t kill us, and I’ll find something else to cook.  I’m certainly not going to part with double or triple the money for a couple of courgettes – I’ll make do with carrots instead.

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