Eats shoots and leaves the iceberg alone…

THE jokes have been inevitable. Rationing of iceberg lettuces is said to be the tip of the iceberg. Well, if you ask me the tip of the iceberg lettuce tastes as horrid as the rest of it.

It’s funny the things that can cause a media panic. The courgette had its moment and now the iceberg lettuce and broccoli have been shoved into the news spotlight, shivering nervously at all the attention. There is a pepper or two there too and just a moment ago, a shy tomato blushed when a microphone was shoved towards it with indelicate enthusiasm.

Most of the year the iceberg lettuce lies neglected in the salad drawer where it belongs. But now it is the centre of attention, the star of its own shortage. The media is in a panic about a grotty lettuce that tastes of cold nothing.

Bad weather in Spain is partly to blame for the great salad shortage. Emergency iceberg lettuces can be flown in from Bolivia or the dark side of the moon or wherever it is that they are grown. So much bother for such lacklustre leaves.

I don’t much go in for patriotism, not liking the company you keep, but will make an exception for vegetables. We should stick up for winter vegetables grown by British farmers.

In the winter months in this country you can buy British beetroot, Brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, fennel, kale, leeks, parsnips, red cabbage, swede and turnips. Not everything from that list enters my mouth, but a fair few do.

Lord Haskins, the former chairman of Northern Foods, which supplies Tesco, tells the BBB that we have become a “slightly strange group”, expecting all-year-round produce. And how right he is. Why not just think that it’s winter and therefore you don’t have to eat salad? Or shred a cabbage instead. It’ll taste better and won’t have been flown half-way round the world to languish in the salad drawer awaiting inevitable deliquescence. Toast some seeds and mix those in with a grated carrot and a dressing.

You see, I know about these things. I married into salad. The relationship got off to a shaky start but salad and me, we’re on close terms now.

A former colleague used to grumble about her partner’s eating habits, saying: “He won’t eat salad.” She clearly hadn’t tried the hard-line salad approach adopted by my wife. A man can only resist for so long. Now I even make salads.

I did like the salad-drawer outrage in the Sun yesterday which called on its usual mighty firepower to accuse the supermarkets of holding on to their lettuces to raise prices.

A salad scandal is not something you see often. With that note I shall wind up with an old veg themed joke: That’s shallot for today…

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