Shoppers should embrace British seasonal vegetables such as kale, leeks and swede, rather than lament the loss of imported Spanish iceberg or courgettes, one grower has said.
Founder of Riverford Organic Guy Watson was speaking in response to the ongoing media storm about the severe shortages on Spanish iceberg, and other vegetables including broccoli.
He said a lack of lettuce “isn’t a big deal”, and instead encouraged consumers to look at recipes that use veg that is currently in season in the UK.
“Right now our fields are brimming with wonderful cabbages, leeks, kale, swede and flavourful greenery that have much more to offer than imported courgettes or watery iceberg lettuce,” he said.
“We need to relearn the potential of great British veg, and embrace seasonal British winter crops instead of relying on imports.”
Watson said one of the most popular winter dishes in The Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant is the Kale Caesar Salad, with diners rarely aware that kale can make a “superior substitute for bland salad leaves”. “It’s also really easy to make a vibrant winter slaw using beetroot, carrot, red cabbage and swede – all in season and growing in British fields right now,” he added.
Watson said strict aesthetic specifications from retailers is one of the causes of wasted produce, especially during times of bad weather.
“In my experience, when I was growing for supermarkets, up to a half of all veg was often left in the field due to unnecessarily tight cosmetic specifications,” he said.
“We don’t believe in such needless waste so for example, we’re currently including undersized broccoli heads in our veg boxes, but just giving more of them. Because we grow, source, pack and deliver our veg ourselves, we have the flexibility to widen our specifications.”