Iceberg lettuces are seen next to a sign requesting that customers limit their purchase in a supermarket, in London, Britain February 3, 2017.

Iceberg lettuces are seen next to a sign requesting that customers limit their purchase in a supermarket, in London, on Feb. 3, 2017.

Credit:

Peter Nicholls/Reuters

First it was the zucchinis.  

Then the iceberg lettuce. 

Then even the satsumas, those small mandarin oranges. 

That's when The World's reporter in London, Leo Hornak, says he really got hungry: "I'm at the epicenter of a zucchini famine. An iceberg lettuce drought."    

Britain is in the middle of a vegetable crisis due to poor growing conditions in southern Europe, where many of these vegetables are cultivated during the winter months.  

A combination of flooding, storms and frost have damaged crops in southern Spain, which supplies half the vegetables throughout Europe. 

Some of the UK's largest supermarkets have rationed the amount of iceberg lettuce shoppers can buy. 

"You cannot buy more than three iceberg lettuce[s] at once. And everything from eggplant to celery to cucumbers to artichokes, even broccoli have been affected by this."  

It's like a throwback to WWII, when Britons were forced to ration their food. 

Suppliers have warned that if the weather does not improve in coming weeks, the shortage may continue through March — meaning customers could be hit with higher prices for the produce. 

Add to that anxiety about the expected fallout from Brexit, when Britain withdraws from the European Union. 

"Although this [shortage] is attributed directly to the weather, it could be a taste for the future," Hornak says. "In Britain, we're used to having free trade with the rest of Europe, that's the basic privilege we have as part of the European Union. But, no one knows what the conditions for trade will be when Britain leaves the European Union. So, I think people are worried that this could be a forewarning of what we should get used to." 

Related Stories