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There is no shortage at my local greengrocers. His shelves are well stocked and varied, just like any other year. Staples like celeriac, leek, watercress, broccoli, apples and pears rub shoulders with the first Yorkshire rhubarb and dazzling selection of citrus, everything from leaf-on clementines and nadorcotts to burgundy-deep blood oranges and unwaxed lemons.

It’s the same story in all the independent produce shops in our area. The Turkish grocer’s outdoor fruit and vegetable display is a work of street art. His fistful-sized bunches of flat parsley, dill and coriander are as sappy and green as ever.

The Pakistani shop up the road shows no signs of running out of fresh curry leaves or pomegranates.

At the old-school indoor market nearby, the stall that specialises in bowl-for-a-pound bargains is as generously stacked and busy as ever.

Box schemes, like Riverford, are still delivering reliably. Business as usual.

Along with social media shots of abundant shelves in EU supermarkets, this steady availability should shame UK chains that try to pass the buck for their embarrassing supply breakdown onto Brexit and weather. These are factors, but the deeper rot is our supermarkets’ buying habits.

The multiples could have used their collective buying power to build the nation’s food security by actively supporting British suppliers. Instead they play them off on price against foreign competitors, offering only wafer-thin margins while complacently expecting them to absorb unpredictable cost rises.

The supermarkets have been aided and abetted in this mission by Defra, with its deeply embedded and blasé mentality that Britain needn’t get its hands dirty producing food. Let the supermarkets get on with global sourcing, even if that means we haemorrhage growers at home.

By contrast, the supply chains of small fruit and vegetable retailers show remarkable resilience, precisely because they exist outside the supermarket system.

My greengrocer stocks significantly more locally or regionally grown produce than any supermarket. He is loyal to his wholesale suppliers, as are the stallholders at the market.

The more exotic grocers have long since developed their own dependable supply relationships, and they stick with them.

Bare shelves in supermarkets, by contrast, offer a vivid demonstration of what happens when reckless retailers place price over availability.


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