When was the last time you saw fruit or vegetables with dirt on them in the supermarket?
Unless you go to a farm shop, veg comes packaged in cellophane. Mushrooms are in plastic trays with clingfilm on them.
Potatoes, carrots, parsnips are all clean.
Even cabbages come with a film on them.
The truth is people don’t like the inconvenience of dirty veg. They want them to look appealing when they buy them-similar to how they don’t want wonky veg-despite the recent push to have vegetables of all shapes and sizes.
The days of watching my mum scrubbing potatoes clean are over. Carrots don’t even come with their leafy top any more so a child (or an adult) in a field of carrots would be hard pushed to identify what was growing there.
Have we become lazy as a society? Or do we just not like dirt?
Are we all rushing around so much that we haven’t got time to wash the dirt off our five a day?
Or has our anti-bacterial society made us shy away from soil?
The one thing that strikes me about the lack of dirt on our vegetables though is the ever growing gap between the farm and our plates.
People no longer see the association between their food and the farmer who worked hard to get that food sown, grown and harvested.
Or maybe they do see it and chose to ignore it.
As a nation, Britain produces some of the best vegetables in the world.
Where else can you get the climate to grow such things as Brussel sprouts and potatoes? We may complain about the weather a lot but the fact is, the weather is exactly why ur veg is so good.
The fact that allotments have become so much more popular actually fills me with hope. Through allotments and grow your own projects in schools, the next generation of growing enthusiasts may just save our savoy.
I do not blame the supermarkets and shops. They only respond to consumer behaviour and, if they put, say, potatoes with soil on them on the shelves and shoppers only buy the clean ones, it makes sense the they would stop stocking them all together.
As I write this, the one thing which keeps coming to my mind though is that a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone.
My kids regularly eat carrots without peeling them. We talk about which fruits grow on trees and which vegetables come from the ground.
I think it is so important to teach my children where their food comes from and that, in eating something, they realise the hard work that someone has done for them to do so.
Go to farm shops and see the dirty veg. Like wonky veg, there is nothing wrong with it. This is how it is supposed to be.
In the grand scheme of things, I would rather people buy and eat any British veg and fruit-whether it is clean or mot. It is just the gap between farm and plate the worries me.
We rely heavily on imports and, according to Defra, our self-sufficient percentage is 76 per cent. Maybe with Brexit looming, and the possible price increase of imported food, people may turn to British farmers for their food. I really hope they do.
If you see dirty veg, don’t she away from it. It won’t hurt you.
Let’s bring back dirty, British veg.