Due to the drought affecting large parts of the UK this year, in particular those areas providing the nation’s agricultural produce, farmers are warning of some curiously shaped vegetables heading our way

Carrots with arms and legs?

That sort of thing. Only the farmers are calling it ‘wonky veg’ and saying we had better get used to it. Gone are the days when a carrot looked like a neatly rolled Cuban cigar and perfectly cone-like parsnips tapered to a perfectly cone-like point.

What are they actually saying?

That although our autumn and winter vegetables will taste the same they may not look “normal”. “Consumers have been conditioned to believe that a potato looks a certain way,” according to National Union of Farmers vice-president Tom Bradshaw, speaking to the BBC. “We need to be more relaxed about appearance.” Meanwhile Hannah Dougherty, Food Policy Advisor at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers understand weather conditions have been a challenge and have taken steps to support their farmers. This includes expanding ranges of odd-sized and shaped fruit and veg when needed.”


Yes. Tesco is selling carrots and parsnips in packs labelled ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ and even a cursory inspection will uncover a variety of sizes, if not perhaps shapes. Lidl has announced it will sell what it calls ‘stunted’ vegetables. “Whilst the crop coming out may look and feel a bit different to what we’re all used to, it’s still the same great British quality,” says Lidl’s UK boss, Ryan McDonnell. “We therefore want to show support for our suppliers by working with them to find solutions to help.” Even Waitrose is tweaking its door policy to admit those members of the alium and brassica genera which may be beautiful on the inside but not on the outside. Waitrose is calling this it’s ‘A Little Less Than Perfect’ range. Mind you, anything too weird or wonky will not make it onto the shelves – it will be earmarked for the retailer’s own brand soup.

Which vegetables are affected?

As mentioned above, carrots and parsnips may be a little bent out of shape this year. So too potatoes, which are very susceptible to drought. Cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli and (whisper it) Brussels sprouts are also likely to be affected.

Brussels sprouts? Oh no ... 

Oh yes. After last year’s concerns about a shortage pretty much came to naught, this year could be a little different.

Is there a funny side?

There’s always a funny side to a courgette or a potato shaped like a [insert body part of your choice here]. The shoppers of the 21st century aren’t the first to find humour in misshapen vegetables or, probably, the last. Much-loved BBC light entertainment programme That’s Life! ran for 21 years from 1973 and had a regular spot for vegetable misshapes. Not to be outdone, this generation’s social media users have found ways of celebrating the vegetable world in all its wonky glory by posting images of curiously shaped items to Instagram and Facebook. And yes, some of them look rude.