Food and Drink: Blythman's unfavourite veg - the Dutch answer back: Eric Truffino, of the Central Bureau of Fruit and Vegetables in Holland, defends the reputation of Dutch produce:

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A VIEW expressed in this page two weeks ago by Joanna Blythman was that Dutch peppers were 'tasteless . . . artificial . . . mutants'. The message from the British consumer is markedly different. Consumer demand for Dutch peppers has increased dramatically (doubling in the past five years) and UK supermarket buyers and importers have the most rigorous standards in Europe for food safety, quality and above all, flavour.

In an ideal world, all produce would be grown on small, family-run farms basking in sunshine, producing disease-proof, easily transportable produce. The Netherlands may not have the sunshine of southern Europe, but it does not have the extremes of temperature or water problems, either. Growing peppers under glass may not be 'romantic' farming but it does not mean that nutritional value, freshness and, most importantly, taste are less than those of their Mediterranean counterparts. Research carried out in July 1993 found that in blind tastings consumers could not tell the difference between greenhouse products and those grown outdoors.

Most Dutch tomatoes and peppers are grown on a substrate, reducing any risk of disease and soil pollution. The plants receive the same nutrients as those grown in soil. Greenhouse products are no lower in nutritional value or vitamins and any shortage of sunlight is compensated for by uniform temperatures and extra nutrients.

The consumer demands Dutch greenhouse produce, so retailers supply it. We maintain that our products do satisfy the taste-buds of the Nineties consumer and also have extended storage life.

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