First his organic carrots were rejected by supermarkets because they were too crooked. Now the Prince of Wales has found that his organic potatoes will not be bought by supermarkets because they are not shiny enough. Instead, he will have to sell them to the local Council. In a deal struck with South Gloucestershire County Council, Home Farm near Tebury will supply nearby schools with 100 tons of Cara and Cosmos potatoes.

The Prince turned to the council after learning that his produce would not be bought by the large supermarkets. David Wilson, the farm manager, said there was a drive to achieve cosmetic perfection in major stores.

"I have given up selling potatoes to supermarkets because they don't like skin marks and we can't get them shiny enough" he said. "The waste from the field to the table is shocking......it is not just one supermarket, but several" .

Mr. Wilson said that around half of their carrots had also been rejected for cosmetic reasons.

A spokesman for the Prince said it was common for supermarkets to behave like this when dealing with farmers. "Supermarkets will reject vegetables if they don't meet the very high standards they set"...which is why Home Farm has to sell them to schools.

My view, for what it's worth, is that supermarkets are encouraging consumers to be ignorant about the food they eat. It is hardly surprising that people think potatoes are bland and insipid if they can only buy cosmetically perfect but abysmally-flavoured "Nadine". Young people will not understand the frustration of our growers if they only see a limited selection of perfect produce in the shops. I wonder if the local council would have bought the potatoes if they hadn't come from the Royal Estate.....

I hope the day will come when the supermarkets will support their own farmers. They might be a little less fussy about appearances, and buy less stuff from abroad.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

The above is based on an article in the Daily Telegraph, 14 Jul 04.

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