As you know this blog is here to talk about the burning, important issues of the day. Which is why, today, I'm ranting about vegetables.
I love vegetables. I've even been out with a few. Hoho. But seriously, people, the other day I decided I wanted a cauliflower and some carrots. And maybe a tomato, cos, y'know, the fridge was looking a bit low. Actually, it was past 'a bit low', and getting towards 'clinically depressed'. So I thought I'd try and reschedule my day so I could make it to the greengrocers.
And then, I thought, chuffing 'eck, this is wrong! Why do I have to plan my day just to find a humble fruit and veg shop? Am I some sort of minority interest weirdo, because I eat cauliflower cheese? In most sensible countries you just wander out onto the pavement and some guy is running a veg stall. But no, I have to a) cycle about 2.5 miles in one direction (sort of towards town but not) or about a mile in the other (totally away from anywhere else I need to go). Bristol city centre does not boast one proper greengrocers. This is crazy.
Now, I am aware that there is another type of place where once can purchase vegetables, and that is apparently called a super-market. A super-market is super to a market in the same way that Weston is super to the Mare: i.e. separated from it from a great muddy band of sludge*. I really hate supermarket fruit and vegetables: they come in great packs when you only want one, which means that the rest sit in the fridge, slowly shrivelling, and eventually get thrown away. They are often criminally unripe, and then, strangely, go from unripe to to rotten without doing 'ready' in between. In short, they are a total waste of money and foodstuffs.
Also, they are strangely unappealing. When I look at supermarket vegetables I don't feel inspired to cook, and I do like cooking. That is because supermarkets don't really like vegetables: they'd rather you moved on to the pizzas and ready meals, which bring in much better profits.
Now, I'm not a statistician, and I know that correlation is not causation. I can't find a graph that matches up the rise of supermarkets with the rise in obesity over the last two decades. But I promise you, they're going in the same direction. And I know for a fact that I personally eat less junk on weeks when I've stocked up at the greengrocer's. That's partly because a nice tenner buys me a selection of stuff that I actually want to eat and cook with: the same amount in a supermarket would buy me a few bags of under-ripe stuff that isn't what I want.
Which is why I go a bit mad when confronted with government campaigns telling us to eat more fruit and veg. Have they noticed that the bloody things are increasingly hard to get hold of? You can get hard drugs in many neighbourhoods, easier than you can get a onion. There is plenty of money being spent of 'public education' but none of the actual planning that would make it easier for people to eat healthier things. I mean, in the centre of Bristol, England's 9th largest city, slap bang in the middle of a massive food-producing region, not one greengrocer. Why, you may ask: well, I know for a fact that the business rates on a very small shop in the city centre run to £5000 a year. That's a lot of carrots you've got to sell on behalf of the city council, before you start selling carrots on behalf of your landlord, before you even sell a carrot on behalf of yourself. Ouch.
Other cities have markets where you can buy things like fruit and veg and cheese. We apparently, are so sophisticated that we don't admit these peasant commodities inside the inner ring road. I think that's absolutely ridiculous. Personally, I blame it all on the fact that potatoes - and for that matter greengrocers - just don't do that big-eyed 'please save me' look that goes down so well in charity adverts. Otherwise we'd all be out waving placards. Save a greengrocer - they're an endangered species - today!
*Sorry, Weston. I love you, really.