In Britain, let us root around for a salad

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 23, 2023
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

“What on earth is going on in Britain?” a friend in Wisconsin asked the other day.

He didn’t mean generalities – the cost of living crisis; Brexit’s effect on supply chains as well as small and medium businesses; trouble over Northern Ireland’s peace agreement; the salient issue of Scottish independence. He was referring specifically to the UK’s current “salad crisis”, which is to say news that major supermarkets have begun rationing produce like lettuce and tomatoes.

It’s good the Wisconsin friend didn’t ask Britain’s environment secretary, because she would’ve simply insisted that the food system “remains resilient” even though fruit and vegetable shortages would continue for a fortnight or a month. And she would’ve offered a turnip as an acceptable substitute. Or a swede. Or a celeriac.

Asked in parliament about the food shortages, more specifically if consumers could help avoid shortages by eating more seasonal produce, Therese Coffey said: “A lot of people would be eating turnips right now rather than thinking about aspects of lettuce, tomatoes and similar… but consumers want a year-round choice”.

We have lettuce and tomatoes in our fridge but there is something to be said for using root vegetables traditionally grown in northern Europe.

Having bought a swede the other day for 65 pence and used it in three separate recipes and thrown a celeriac (priced at £1.45 a kg) into a French remoulade, it is entirely possible to use ugly root veg in a beautiful, healthful and delicious salad.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet and sour celeriac and swede, for instance. Or a quick version of the classic remoulade. Or a simple shredded turnip salad.

No excuse to not eat salad, whatever’s going on in Britain.