Telling The Truth About Tomatoes (or the lack of…)

27/02/2023 | 0 comments


I have a new habit. Muttering.

Largely directed at the News on the radio as it reports stories from the world that seem to me completely absurd.

This week it was all about rewriting Roald Dahl to make his books more “suitable”? Mutter, mutter “Has the world gone mad?” “Leave the BFG alone” 


​I had a full on (one-sided) debate with the newsreader about leaving the written word alone. Why should we airbrush the past? Why should we tamper with the original?

​I then went online and caught a glimpse of a 64 year old Madonna, with a face like a stretched and shiny aubergine, upset about the world’s reaction to her new look. I felt a flicker of deja-vu as I muttered the exact same words. Why should we airbrush the past? Why should we tamper with the original?


Madonna and her entourage

​Mad-onna is creating her own truth as much as re-assembling her own face just as the “sensitivity readers” are re-writing Dahl’s gloriously repugnant characters but an airbrushing of the truth seems be prevalent all around us.

​Another story in the News which was next in my firing line, and apologies for the pre-amble if actually all that interests you are tomatoes, British supermarkets are now rationing tomatoes – and possibly cucumbers and peppers. The vegetable aisles are full of nothing but empty shelves…

​And, apparently, it’s all due to poor weather in Europe…erm. Nothing like telling half the story.

Empty vegetable shelves in my
local supermarket.


Hmm global warming and terrible cucumber growing weather in Europe… but it all begins to smell a bit fishy when social media is full of pictures of shelves in Europe positively groaning under the weight of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers – all the things that aren’t making it to UK supermarkets because of the “weather”.


A European supermarket’s loaded shelves 

​Un-airbrushed accounts tell the full story. Of course, there was Brexit and we know about the lack of lorry drivers but there’s also a lack of foresight and a total disinclination to champion British suppliers. At the end of last year, as energy prices reached unprecedented highs, supermarket chains decided not to pay British growers the correct price for producing home-grown salads which needed heated greenhouses. Instead, they opted for importing cheaper produce from abroad. Cooler temperatures in Europe, distribution issues and a disruption to that supply chain mean empty supermarket shelves.

​I do wish the media would report the full story. I do wish my grandchildren will be allowed to read the glorious, unpolished language of Roald Dahl and that Augustus Gloop will remain as fat as he ever was (and that Madonna’s stretched and shiny aubergine-cheeks will be allowed to age and wrinkle like my own).


Stokeley Farm Shop – so much better than a supermarket!

​But most of all, I do wish that consumers will once again realise, as they did during the pandemic, that popping to their local farm shop, where the vegetable shelves are full of locally grown, seasonal produce, is the way forward. 

​Un-airbrushed pictures of glorious farm shop veg have been all over social media this week with hashtags as unapologetic as #noemptyshelveshere. If only the mainstream media would get on board too and every time they sent a reporter to the supermarket to show empty shelves, they would also visit a farm shop full to bursting, and interview “satisfied Sue” with a basket stuffed with produce rather than “disgruntled Di” moaning about her wasted trip to Tesco.

The Paddock Farm Shop
​shows off its cucumbers
Windy Arbour Farm Shop exhibiting
no shortage of tomatoes!

​In the meantime, you wonderful farm shops, let’s do what we can. Keep sharing those photos, keep shouting about your veg, keep doing what you do. And I’ll keep muttering at the radio…. 

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