Blog by Cristina Romero Rios, University of Edinburgh student
Have you ever asked yourself where the bananas that you eat come from? Have you wondered the same about tomatoes, lemons, peppers, asparagus, or for that matter any of the fresh food you eat?
The UK relies on many other countries to supply the fruits and vegetables people eat. If we talk about food security, the UK is highly dependent on foreign imports. At present the UK imports 50% of its vegetable needs and an incredible 90% of its fruit needs. This global supply system can cause problems in the UK if something happens in the source countries.
We don’t have to look very far for an example of this. At the moment, we are in a “courgette crisis”. But this is not the only vegetable that has been missing from the shops recently: tomatoes, lettuce, pepper and celery among other produce from southern Spain are also scarce. This is due to the severity of the current winter. This shortage has resulted in a never before seen, increase in the prices of these foods in UK supermarkets.
Coming from Colombia, I feel that fruit and vegetables from my country have a more vivid flavour than in the UK. And that is, of course, because at home in Colombia I am lucky to be able to eat these products in their freshest and most ripe state. So, why don’t we eat more locally grown produce here in the UK? Supermarkets have presented us with the impression that we can buy just about any fresh produce at any time of the year. This situation has now be given a name “Permanent Global Summertime” and has become so normal that it prevents consumers from developing an understanding of the seasonal nature of fruit and vegetables.
In the UK, and Europe in general, in each season different products are available. This seasonal shift in what is available should be seen as an opportunity to vary our diets throughout the year and be creative with produce in season. Eating local fruits and vegetables not only means we support local production, but that the impacts of food shortages beyond our borders can be lessened. However, the great taste of fresh produce in season is probably what will ultimately convince people to move away from the alure of Permanent Global Summertime.