The rains in Spain are creating a massive pain... for European grocery shoppers.
- Southern Spain, often referred to as the "produce basket of Europe", has been hit hard by meteorological mishaps over the past several months. In December three years of drought gave way to massive flooding, followed by unusually cold weather throughout January and February. Some areas of Valencia and Murica even recieved snowfall, a rarity in the region, which led to widespread destruction of crops.
By February markets across Europe were experiencing widespread vegetable shortages.
The shortages in popular produce items like courgettes (zucchini), broccoli, and lettuce caused some stores to raise prices almost 400%.
Many supermarkets began enforcing produce rations in response
to shoppers stockpiling vegetables.
Britons were encouraged to ride out the shortage by purchasing local, seasonal vegetables such as artichokes, leeks, and cabbage.
Milder Spanish weather in late February ameliorated some of the problems. However, many climate experts worry that the unusually bad weather in Southern Spain is a sign of long-term climate shifts.
- Environmetal experts believe that melting polar ice caps cause shifts in the Atlantic gulf stream, a massive current that brings warm tropical water to the Western European coast. This can lead to unseasonably cold and wet weather througout Spain and Southern France, spelling disaster for the massive agricultural operations in these regions.
- The UK-based Food Ethics Council has criticized the British government for not sufficiently addressing climate-related food security issues. However, these recent produce shortages may be an incentive for European leaders to pay greater attention to the impacts of climate change.