Reports of courgette, iceberg lettuce and broccoli shortages have been hitting the news over the last few weeks.

Pictures of empty supermarket shelves have been doing the rounds on social media and a box of lettuces is available on Gumtree for a mere £50.

The ‘courgette crisis’ is believed to have been caused by flooding and unusually cold weather in Southern Spain. Courgettes and aubergines were the first to go missing from supermarket shelves, closely followed by iceberg lettuce and salad leaves.

Supplies of peppers, tomatoes and spinach are also predicted to dwindle in the near future.

Consequently, these healthy goods have soared in price by up to 3 times their usual cost.

To get to grips with the scale of the situation, I took to the streets of Brighton in search of the most sought after ingredients: spinach, tomatoes and, of course, a courgette.

I picked up spinach fairly easily from the Co-op and most of the other shops I visited were managing to keep up with the clean eaters’ demand for their favorite leaf. 

I couldn’t find tomatoes in the Co-op but supplies were still plentiful at Lidl and ASDA.

The courgette however, continued to elude me. Four shops later I gave up, deciding that the sustenance of a courgette could never out-weigh the energy expenditure of further trekking around supermarkets.

Of the shops I visited, Morrison’s on St. James’s Street seemed worst affected. There were rations on iceberg lettuce, permitting only 2 per customer.

In place of many vegetables were signs explaining that frozen and canned alternatives were available within the store.

The crisis is predicted to last until April when harvest of British grown courgettes begins. Until then many supermarkets are planning to fly in extra supplies from the US.

While many will find it difficult to come to terms with the loss of  the courgette from their dinner plate, it may be wise to embrace the opportunity and try some other seasonal veg.

Leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and savoy cabbage are all grown in the UK and are in season.

Should you still feel that nothing can fill the courgette-shaped hole in your life, then seeds can be bought for 99p.

If you can get them to grow quickly enough, there’s potential for huge profit on the black market.

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Kate Dearling

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