Vegetable Rationing Hits The UK: A Sign Of Things To Come?

This week has seen the veggies stocked by UK supermarkets and even specialist green grocery shops dwindle.

It has also provided some valuable lessons for those of us with a prepper mindset.

Bad weather in across Europe has hit hard leaving European farmers, and Spanish farmers in particular, with nothing to export, and what they do have is going to customers in their home countries – I get that look after your own people first.

My question is, why in a country that has so much available land to grow on is the UK importing so much in the first place?

So, not getting the answers from either the news or the shops who are running out of veg I called a few farms and asked the question.

It seems the problem is three-fold. Firstly the size of the farms in the UK often means they would almost have to exclusively grow one type of crop per season in order to even approach the amounts that a supermarket and that is one supermarket, not a chain of supermarkets, would need to purchase to satisfy their customers and many UK farms just aren’t big enough to do that. Most have no hope at all of growing enough to satisfy the needs of a national supermarket chain.

Second, many crops are labour intensive at harvest time and this puts up the cost to the farmer if they could get the labour in the first place.

Thirdly there’s no money in it. Farmers have to be very well placed with a national chain – which involves a large amount of land and a decent sized workforce particularly at harvest to make a profit. Some European countries such as Spain still embrace farming as a way of life and seasonal workers are cheap and not hard to find so the costs are kept down. Larger farms or co-operatives where farmers band together to bid for contracts with national to international supermarkets are much more commonplace in Europe than they are in the UK.

So, with lettuce, broccoli, courgettes, aubergines, cucumbers and tomatoes becoming rarer on the supermarket shelves we have to wonder what the knock on effect will be. Some sources are already saying that winter cropping veggies such as swede (rutabega), turnips, parsnips and even sprouts will be affected later in the year as the waterlogged and frozen fields of Europe can’t be planted and those that have already been planted won’t be producing much of a crop.

For many this is a minor inconvenience, half the country eats nowhere near enough veg, but it gives them something to moan about at the check out. For me things are a little different.

  • I live literally on the coast…a few hundred yards from open ocean and the salt air and harsh winds limit what will grow here.
  • Greenhouses don’t last long and insurance companies won’t pay for wind damage to them any more.
  • Poly tunnels blow away so no point buying them in the first place.
  • I have to consider if it’s viable cost wise to plant a veggie garden this year as I will be out of the country for four months and won’t be here to tend it during those times.
  • Container growing makes more sense as I limit loses when I’m away and the can be sheltered from the wind.

But the biggie for me is that I rely on veggies, particularly the above ground ones to provide me with the small amounts of carbohydrates I eat.

I discovered completely by accident last year that carbohydrates trigger my arthritis pain. So out went processed carbs. Within days I saw a massive improvement. Having a glimpse of what a pain-free life might be like out went potatoes and sweet potatoes, swede and turnips except small amounts once a week with a full roast dinner on a Sunday.

It took a bit of getting used to after over fifty years of cradle to grave carb munching mentality but oh was it ever worth it…massive weight loss which of course also takes pressure off my joints, no more psoriasis, way more energy and none of that sluggish over-stuffed feeling you get after eating.

It suits me but it does make me reliant on a steady and readily available supply of above ground vegetables…which right now is not assured.

So what’s the answer?

For me it’s more containers so that i can supplement the meagre supplies I can get in the shops. I will eat whatever above ground stuff I grow or can buy and if it got really bad a few more root vegetables but spread out across the week so my body takes small hits rather than one big one.

What does concern me is that in a real crisis I would need to be as fit as possible and this tells me the carbs would remain a very small part of my diet. The project for this year is logging how much fresh produce I actually eat and making plans of how to grow enough for my needs as well as my daughter’s…who thankfully eats a ton of salad for no other reason than she likes it. In a crisis she would quite happy switch to whatever other veggies and fruit are available because they have no effect on her at all.

Using intensive sowing methods, somewhat similar to square foot gardening producing tons of sweet potatoes, regular potatoes carrots and turnips isn’t a problem, they all do well in containers and I plant several three weeks apart so we have a continual supply. They are also far less prone to damage than the above ground stuff.

Will the moaners at the checkout get down and dirty in the garden to grow their own? No, not a chance. They have become so used to going to the store and buying whatever they need they have lost the knowledge and skills that they would need if this became a long term problem.

Am I concerned about this?

No. I used to be but now I don’t spread the word nearly so much. My container garden is invisible from every angle unless you are actually standing facing it and to do that you would need to be standing at the side of my home…and to do that you have gotten through two high locked gates and past a small but very noisy dog and past me – not an easy option that last one!

For obvious reasons that’s as far as I go in discussing the food security methods that I have in place here. Needless to say it’s in hand as far as it can be for any of us.

Here are a few more articles relating to dietary health and gardening. I hope you find them interesting.

Take care,

Liz.

Future food security comes via Bill Gates !!!

Carbohydrates and arthritis

When growing a garden isn’t as simple as it seems

The 14 best things to grow in a survival garden

German government tells citizens to store food and water

Famine isn’t just a foreign thing

Protein deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency – night blindness

Vitamin B2 deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency – Rickets

Iron deficiency – anaemia

Stored food: Not all calories are created equal

 

 

9 thoughts on “Vegetable Rationing Hits The UK: A Sign Of Things To Come?”

  1. Liz. I started out as the UK friend, new prepper on the DS circuit. I suffered my own personal SHTF I wish all preppers to digest. I lost both my mother and father in quick succession to cancer. I never realised the bills for gas, lectric, food, basically everything had got this expensive.
    Job in jeweller’s shop Birmingham 1987 pays £100/wk, rent £20/wk. No way can you survive this today unless parents live in the Same city and you can stay with them.
    Now in Cheltenham and the only way I can survive is to eat into savings. When they go, cash in pensions.
    I honestly see a poverty driven SHTF that cannot be contained. It will cascade and multiply.
    Got a bad tooth. Luckily my Denplan covers it. I am sorry to get heavy but the media never speak of the poverty that us Brits now face.
    But thanks for good prepping strategies👍🏼

  2. Going away for 4 months is tough on any sort of gardening. Do you have someone to cover for you Liz? I have found LDS Prepper on YouTube self watering garden very useful. Sweet potatoes Tomatoes and even cut and grow again salads easier on my deck in 5 gallon pails than fighting with the bugs in my raised garden. Being able to fill the watering reservoir weekly and monthly feeding of the buckets very doable.

    1. Evening Michael.

      Thats interesting, thank you for telling me, I will try and find it. The guy who minds the house and dog will throw the odd can of water around for me but it’s the invasion by weeds, slugs et al that seems to cause most of the damage. He is an excellent house sitter and even cuts the grass but that’s it gardening wise. Thanks for the info.

      Take care

      Liz

  3. Hi Liz

    I read the articles regarding rationing prior to your post. Brought to mind my hunt for veggies last year. Due to the drought in Cali and here in Ontario, fresh veg were difficult to find. I also tried container gardening but wasn’t overly successful.

    What I did notice is that the prices you pay are far less than what I pay even for local produce in season. I actually took the time to check the exchange rate and then do the math to convert to Canadian dollars. The new higher prices on your produce is getting close to what I have to pay when there isn’t a shortage. Life in Canada is expensive.

    Just read that the British stores are now looking at getting produce from the U.S. so that means more demand for what is being produced there. And that spells even higher prices for all of us.

    Will definitely be looking at getting more containers for this coming season and the possibility of attempting to grow food indoors.

    I did notice that pics of the Spanish markets showed lots of produce. So, are we in a position now that countries aren’t willing to sell to other countries? I remember reading some years ago that there was a rice shortage and India stopped exporting their rice so that Indians wouldn’t have to do without. We may well be ending up in an “us vs them” situation if there isn’t enough veg (or whatever) to go around. Something worth thinking about.

    Take care.

    kk

    1. Evening KK

      How are you? I swear I will write soon…got asked to ghost write some articles and can’t refuse the cash!!! Yes we are importing food and prices are spiking and everyone complains…

      I would serve my country first to be fair, I don’t blame the Spaniards if I am honest. Protectionism is making a comeback.

      Speak soon

      Liz

  4. Sorry you are having such a hard time about growing food. I’m not sure what is avalible in the UK materials wise but I have two 12ft by 24 ft hoop houses. They are made from chain link fence top rail and ancored by inserting the hoop ends into 3ft lengths of chain link fence posts. The hoops are formed with a simple bender from Johnnys Select Seeds of Albion Maine. You should be able to find a video on line. I have the original bender which leaves a little tension in the arch when you insert them in the ground stakes they also make one that bends the hoops tighter for moveable hoop houses. You can space the hoops to need for your conditions and you attach a ridge and side porlins either with screws or clamps. With the ground stales three feet in the ground they can stand a lot of wind, and were designed in coastal Maine which has similar ocean winds to yours. You cam make a house any length you want by adding more hoops.
    My oldest hoop house has gone six years with it’s original stabilized plastic 6mil green house plastic cover.
    I could give you some more info if you are interested.

    1. Morning Howard,

      yes please I would love to know more about those. This is the thing with the UK, remember you are talking about a country that seems all the gear to can your own food but you have to import a pressure canner or have one from Amazon.co.uk (we can’t order from Amazon.com) that is about big enough to hold three small jars! It’s mad.

      Don’t put yourself out but if you get time i would be interested to know more about these.

      Thank you,

      Liz

  5. Hi Liz have you heard of the back to Eden growing method? There is a YouTube film which is long but very informative. I’ve used it for years in raised beds and I have found it to be every bit as good as people say it is. If you’re going away for a while it might be ideal as once the plants are in there they pretty much take care of themselves.

    I hear you about the wind. I have an ocean view too and the wind can be a real issue. My polytunnel turned into an expensive kite a few years back. Cold frames might work I guess. I trained as a permaculturist so I will have to get my books out as I really want to make my garden more productive this year.
    You are right about the Farmers ,although I think often the main problem is the way supermarkets squeeze all the profits out of growing food in this country.
    The weather cycles are becoming more and more erratic – for what ever reason. Harvests are poor this year. My husband, who keeps meticulous records of rainfall and knows our local climate like the back of his hand says that the weather is changing.

    Time will tell I guess.

    1. Hi Sue,

      I think you sent me that video…if not you someone did…I’d forgotten all about it, will have to take another look at it.

      Went to collect Jessies new glasses today, Specavers is right opposite a huge produce stall that the local market hosts every Saturday. For the first time ever I walked away and went to Tesco on the way home because the market prices were waaaayyyy above my pay scale, I almost fainted at the prices. two small sweet potatoes £1.50, half a pound of tomatoes ditto…I couldn’t believe it. I usually spend around £30 a week there but the same stuff I always buy, in the quantities I usually buy would have cost me over £50 today. I spoke to the guys and they said “well we are paying so much more love” I get that but I am not the only one that walked away today…so sad.

      I got the whole lot in Tesco…plus chia, flax and pumpkin seeds for £24.65.

      So sad at this, I love supporting local markets etc but I genuinely couldn’t afford to do that today.

      I have NEVER been in a situation where there has been such a massive disparity in pricing.

      I really am in shock Sue…seriously.

      Speak soon,

      Liz

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