We all need to stop being fussy about vegetables to help local farmers – Jayne Dowle

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Good intentions don’t always produce the hoped-for results. But my two children grew up strong and healthy. They have morphed into young adults who, fortunately, are not plagued by any major health issues.

I will attribute this in part to eating fresh, home-cooked food whenever possible and being taught to understand the importance of vitamins and minerals for healthy skin, teeth and hair. Appealing to her vanity was often key, I’ve found.

Hardy as they are to the odd bits on carrots and potatoes that are slightly past their sell-by dates, they won’t have any trouble with the ‘wobbly’ fruit and veg that Lidl and Waitrose have pledged to sell.

Wobbly fruits and vegetables.

It’s heartening to hear that these major supermarkets have made it a professed policy not to refuse products that don’t conform to an airbrushed aesthetic ideal. These retailers are doing this to support UK farmers whose fields and crops have been hit by drought conditions and the driest summer in 50 years.

“Farmers across the country are facing a major challenge this year due to extreme weather conditions over the summer months,” says Ryan McDonnell, Lidl UK Chief Executive.

“Although the harvest that comes out may look and feel a little different than we are all used to, it’s still the same great British quality. Therefore, we want to support our suppliers by finding solutions together with them to help.”

Hats off to the man. And to its counterpart at mid-range favorite Waitrose, who launched the range politely named A Little Less Than Perfect, relaxing size and shape guidelines for new-season potatoes, carrots, strawberries, apples, pears and peppers. After all, food is for eating, not in tastefully chosen handcrafted bowls on scrubbed kitchen tables.

I hope other supermarkets will follow suit. Supporting our rural economy is extremely important, especially given that food security is already a potentially deadly threat to even relatively wealthy western countries.

We don’t have to go back too far in history, and certainly back as far as anyone can remember from World War II when Britain was forced to live on rations.

And let’s not forget that rationing continued years after hostilities ended; Some kids from my parents’ generation, born in the 1940’s, didn’t see fresh fruit like oranges and bananas until they were teenagers in the 1950’s.

It could very easily happen again. And now not only do we have war and strife tearing countries apart (yet), we have the threat of climate change and drought made very real by the extreme weather conditions we experienced this summer. And the cost of living is skyrocketing thanks to rising inflation.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly bear to look at the prices of items in the supermarket; they seem to be doubling weekly.

When I’m at my local Asda, I just keep my cool and fill my basket with the Just Essentials range. And I wear the bright yellow bargain packaging like a badge of honour.

I understand some people have criticized the Leeds based supermarket for this eye-catching color scheme, saying it lets troubled shoppers stand out like victims of poverty.

My answer to that is defiant; We’re all in this together, poor or rich, and it’s time we accept that if we’re not millionaires, we all need to tighten our belts.

I’ve never had much contact with people who would (literally) go to the ends of the earth just to buy their food from a certain posh place, and who were happy to introduce this sad little pastime to less enlightened friends.

At the end of the day, mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes, whether it started out as a plain old potato or garden potato, or a tender bonotte, which is widely considered the world’s most expensive variety and is grown primarily in the Vendee region of France.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you had to add up the cost of items in your head before adding them to your shopping cart, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Perhaps times in my life when I was doing very badly prepared me for these difficult times.

However, there are currently so many people living in food poverty in the UK – five million in 2020, according to the government’s latest Family Resources Survey, and that number is definitely a conservative post-pandemic estimate.

All in all, I don’t think eating a wobbly carrot or an ugly swede is going to hurt anyone, is it? In fact, it could even save their lives.

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