What will your meat and two ugly veg look like this Christmas?
No one likes a minger, but when it comes to your festive veg, do you really care? This year’s vile and wet weather has done more than dampen the spirits of the nation, it has also meant we could end up with a plateful of uglies on December 25th.
Normally, as we all know and deride, supermarkets have strict acceptability guidelines for fruit and vegetables. Bananas can’t be too straight, or too bendy, strawberries have to achieve a certain size and knobbly or misshapen produce is rejected out of hand. However, the weather being what it was, most of our home-grown produce is looking, well, a little bit unpretty.
Now, two supermarkets have said that they will welcome fruit and vegetables of all shapes, sizes and colours into their stores. Sainsbury’s have reported that they will “buy ugly” for the first time and Morrisons have committed to take 100 per cent of farmers’ crops. Looks like all the farmers’ Christmasses have come at once, as otherwise they were facing a wastage of over a fifth of their produce. Unless of course you are exclusively tied to one of the non-ugly supermarkets.
The alternative to ugly veg is to import (even) more from abroad. Did you know that Brussels Sprouts are not actually from Belgium, but normally grown here? And that they are supposed to be sweet? The wet weather has massacred the brassica crop, meaning these might have to be brought in from abroad. But they’d be in good company- wet rot and fungus has meant that some ugly veg are just too far gone, even for enlightened supermarket society. This year you could be munching on apples from Slovakia, peas from Guatemala and chestnuts from Turkey. No, the country, not the giblets…
Judith Batchelar, director of the Sainsbury’s brand, mused to the Sunday Telegraph: “Some of this product is pretty ugly looking. We have been trying to take as much of the crop as possible, in what we call ugly fruit and veg.”
“Customers have said that beauty is more than skin deep, and actually they understand some of the challenges that British farmers have had this season,” she continued, patronisingly, seemingly unaware that it is normally the supermarkets who reject not-quite-perfect tubers, not the public.
So does outer beauty really matter? Once a parsnip has been peeled, chopped and cooked, does it really matter if it is “apparently seconded from the props department of Doctor Who*” to start with? Wouldn’t you rather supermarkets sold cosmetically-challenged produce at bargain prices, like the old boxes of broken biscuits, or chocolate mis-shapes, rather than the farmer having to chuck it? People come in all shapes and sizes, so why shouldn’t vegetables?
No comments about the sizes of your own personages please…
* we think this is a lame joke about the Ood. The Ood have feelings too you know.