My Kingdom… for Some Broccoli

vegiscabbage-graphicsfairy009Last week I read “The War the Saved My Life”, a historical fiction book by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley set in Kent, England, during World War II. The book gave me a deeper understanding of the dire situation facing a country cut off from their food supply. During WWII, German submarines circled the waters around England.

This was a big problem . . .  because England didn’t grow enough food.  Most of the food that English people ate was shipped in from other countries (p. 164)

The book reminded me of the current precarious relationship between the US and Mexico over “The Wall”, and also concerns about deportation of migrant workers who farm and pick produce all over the United States.  Prices of meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit can all be impacted by the current political climate.  Even staffing levels at US/Mexico border crossings affect the price of produce as it travels to el Norte.

We had to queue for groceries every day now.  Meat was on ration and a lot of other things were hard to find.  Onions were so scarce they might as well have been solid gold.  No one had realized that all England’s onions were imported until they couldn’t be imported anymore, and onions took a long time to grow from seed (p. 248).

I found myself thinking about how temporary or long-term weather pattern changes can also affect food availability.  April has been a rough month for produce.  Have you seen the broccoli prices?  I am seeing $3.40/pound for broccoli crowns and $2.60 for broccoli with stalks.  Avocados were affected a few months ago by Mexican labor issues and weather.  All California lettuces are currently considered “extreme shortage” right now due to growing conditions.

Could weather, global warming, or political instability affect our food supply to the extent experienced during WWII?  I sure hope not, but the book made me understand how rapidly things can change.

Have you changed your produce buying habits due to the current supply issues from flooding in California?  I plan to plant some snap peas soon because they are Ok to start in cold weather and mature rapidly.  I have my herbs started inside, and the other veg seeds will have to wait until we are frost-free.  I am looking for some better-priced frozen options for berries and broccoli.  I can live without romaine and red leaf lettuces, because mixed greens and spinach that are grown in greenhouses remain at a lower price.  Broccoli was always my “go-to” vegetable for dinner, so the high prices are causing me to try out some other options.



5 thoughts on “My Kingdom… for Some Broccoli

  1. carolee

    Sounds like a good book, so I’ll try to get it. Growing and preserving the garden’s harvest is not only fun, but insurance against rising prices. I still have frozen broccoli, and lots of other veg canned or frozen. Spinach is almost ready to harvest, and I can steal some fava bean foliage and tiny lettuce leaves for salads, with green onions and radishes that are all ready.

    1. Jen Post author

      I would like to freeze more garden produce this year. That’s a terrific insurance policy you have! I have to look up the fave beans you’re growing. Interesting!

  2. anexactinglife

    We have a short growing season, and rely on imports. Broccoli, peppers, lettuce and avocados are all expensive right now! I could probably grow herbs and leaf lettuce.

  3. Flo

    I remember my mom talking about the rationing during WW2 and how certain things were next to impossible to get because the trade routes were impacted as well. She told a story about my dad going somewhere to get dinner and he ordered a seafood dish (which he never did!) only because they would actually leave the pepper shaker on the table. The only time in his whole life he actually stole something!

    Our Aldi hasn’t had lettuce for weeks, both iceberg and romaine are unavailable which makes it hard for me. I eat a lot of lettuce because of food allergies and I have to be careful about some of the other types as it causes joint pain. So this has been a bit of a problem for me. I do worry about what would happen if we close our borders because not only is gardening something a lot of people don’t know how to do, but we would have to go back to only having certain items available for a much more limited time frame due to climate. I hate the thought of that as I love being able to get fresh fruit much earlier in the season than when I was a kid.

    1. Jen Post author

      That’s a terrific story about your Dad, and what a way to be thankful for things like seasonings that we take for granted.
      Interesting that Aldi isn’t even bothering to stock those types of lettuces. Maybe they figure price sensitive shoppers won’t buy and then Aldi gets stuck paying for delicate produce. I read in the paper that were back to expensive avocados for Cinco de Mayo. I’d rather have my broccoli back to .99 /lb!


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