The British foodie revolution of the last few decades was made possible by the wealth of exotic produce from the EU. Is the country now sleepwalking into food insecurity – or are predictions of catastrophe as overhyped as the millennium bug?
An hour before dawn, Britain’s largest food wholesaler is already winding down. New Covent Garden Market has been supplying London restaurants with fruit and vegetables from this sprawling depot in south London since the UK joined the Common Market in the mid-70s. A foodie revolution during the intervening four decades demands that ever fresher and more exotic produce is on the road before the sun starts to rise.
For those who have to fill the lorries, there is a new worry. As with many sectors, the food industry is trying to work out how it will cope if it is separated from its European supply chain by Brexit. The same ingredients of travel, trade and tourism that transformed the national palate could now turn sour, driving up prices and possibly sending us back to the days of curly sandwiches and limp lettuce.