5th February 2019

Protect fruit and veg by eating seasonal, wonky varieties

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UK consumers should eat more seasonal fruit and vegetables and embrace the ‘wonky’ versions to help protect supplies, according to a new report.

The unpredictable and extreme weather we experience threatens supplies of British fruit, vegetables and wine, due to more frequent and severe heatwaves and flooding.

Analysis published by The Climate Coalition of 130 UK organisations finds future supplies of potatoes, carrots, and other popular British fruit and vegetables are under threat.

The coalition suggests that consumers buy more local, seasonal and ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables, and move more towards vegetarian diets, in order to ease pressure on food systems and help secure supplies of some of the most popular UK foods.

Michael Gove, environment secretary, wrote the foreword in the report and said: “As we saw with last year’s drought, this nutritious food, and the livelihoods of the hard-working farmers who grow it, are increasingly threatened by more extreme weather and increased pests and diseases as a result of climate change.”

According to the report, some English vineyards endured frost damage, affecting up to three quarters of their crop, caused by late spring frosts in 2017 and more than half of UK farms have already been affected by a severe climatic event.

Lee Abbey, head of horticulture at the National Farmers Union – which has pledged for UK farming to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 – said: “A lot of growers will have come out of this year with sore heads and not much income.

“Farmers and growers are used to dealing with fluctuations in the weather but if we have two or three extreme years in a row it has the potential to put growers out of business.”

A YouGov survey commissioned by The Climate Coalition found that 75 per cent of the UK public are willing to buy more ‘wonky’ fruit and veg to help reduce food waste, 62 per cent are ready to buy more UK grown food, and 57 per cent are willing to buy more seasonal food.

The Climate Coalition is made up of more than 130 organisations representing over 15 million people, including Christian Aid, WWF, the Women’s Institute, RSPB, the National Trust, and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

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