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A recent Government survey shows that the proportion of home back garden or allotment grown fruit and vegetables, has almost doubled in the last four years. This is likely to be due to the rapidly rising cost of shop bought fruit and vegetables, as well as the various TV programs. The proportion of different fruit and vegetables that are now home grown, is surprisingly large. Beans 33%, Potatoes 7%, Tomatoes 4%, Apples 9%, Soft fruit 10%, giving an overall figure of 5% for fruit and vegetables that are home grown. Interestingly, about 46% of growers on allotments are women.
Supermarkets have filled our shopping baskets since then with fruit and vegetables cultivated and packed with very cheap migrant or third world labour, and flown in from all over the world at a vast expense in “food miles”.The sudden big increase in the cost of fuel and fertilizer, is already leading to an increasing cost of food. This is being made worse by competition for food from the increasingly affluent far Eastern countries, such as China and India.
Our taste buds have been dumbed down by Supermarkets, which now supply bland and tasteless fruit and vegetables, but which look unnaturally perfect in appearance. Real food is frequently lumpy, misshapen and has the blemishes inflicted by the weather, pests and diseases. However, your own real vegetables hopefully will have been picked when they were young and tender, and your own real fruit will have been picked when fully ripe. Supermarket food, unless it is organic, has been sprayed repeatedly with chemicals, picked unripe and transported huge distances to reach you.
Unfortunately, many garden centres tend to only have very limited ranges of goods, seeds, plants, potatoes and sets, suitable for allotments. Too many of them are being run by Accountants, who are not really interested in providing the essentials for fruit and vegetable growing for sale. They realise that “Plotters” demand “value for money”. If you are lucky, you may still have access to an independent store catering for Allotments. In season, bargains are available at some chain stores. Try Lidle, Aldi, Savacenter, B & Q, Homebase, Asda, Tesco.
Double check that fruit trees varieties are suitable for your area, before you buy them, as many varieties on sale, are not suitable for the climate outside the South of England.
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Realfood, your fruit and vegetable guide.