Wanna know what I get most excited about? Each week I count down the days until Wednesday morning – when our veg box gets delivered. I’m aware that sounds a bit strange, but I am abnormally obsessed by food in general.
The night before is spent postulating over which mud-covered delights will arrive on my doorstep. The next morning I run down in my pyjamas to see what the nice farmer – aka Father Christmas – from the Community Farm has sent us.
We get the ‘Farmer’s Choice, 8 – 10 kinds of the most abundant seasonal vegetables available on the day’, and at £13.15 split between two of us – an utter bargain. I’ve made a list of items which came in this week’s box (or their equivalent’s from last week) and how much they would’ve cost if I bought them in Sainsburys.
- 2x celeriac / swede £1.40
- 2x beetroots £1.20
- 2x leeks £0.90
- 2x spring greens / salad leaves / kale £3.00
- 1kg potatoes £2.00
- 500g carrots £0.90
- 500g parsnips £1.70
- 500g onions £1.00
- 4x jerusalem artichokes (N/A) est. £1.50
- cauliflower / cabbage £2.00
- TOTAL : £15.60
Where possible I chose the organic option, but many of the vegetables aren’t sold organically by Sainsburys and are of visibly inferior quality. Not only is the veg box cheaper, but it is delivered to my door every week – saving me the agony of carrying bags of veg home from the shops.
Organic produce has marvellous health benefits: it is fresher (due to lack of preservatives), and it is higher in nutrients. Locally grown veg also tastes way better as it is grown seasonally and not flown half way across the world.
It’s hard to know what’s in season when you’re buying from the supermarket: even if you do check the label, and realise that the squash you’ve planned your dinner around comes from Argentina, it’s too late by that point and you’re probably going to buy it anyway.
When you’re presented with a box of seasonal vegetables, you automatically start to plan your meals for the week around those. You won’t end up buying things with lots of air miles, and you’ll eat a veg-centred, healthy diet. You will also avoid having to go to the supermarket a million times a week because you can plan ahead much easier.
You do get a surprising amount of variety in veg boxes. Every week you’ll get your staples, but you’ll also be privileged to experience the changing of the seasons and the wide range of delicious British vegetables that they bring. If you’re averse to something then you can build your own box, or ask them to remove it from your weekly order.
Picking a local, small farm was the best option for us, however, at home my parents have been Riverford devotees for many years. Riverford are a collective of farmers based in Devon, but they deliver across the country. They are a larger business who retains their sense of integrity, and are big players in the movement of sustainable, intelligent, organic farming in the UK.
Innovating their popular veg box scheme saved them from competing with supermarket prices. Their boxes are very creative and thoughtful; they send little recipe cards and news from Guy Watson’s blog each week with your delivery.
Small scale, sustainable farms are struggling to exist everywhere in the UK. These farmers do not get a fair price for their produce from big supermarkets; they cannot compete with commercial scale non-organic farming.
The use of pesticides is destroying our soil – creating massive amounts of carbon emissions which leak into the atmosphere from unhealthy soil. Commercial farms further destroy the fields by re-planting ‘cash crops’ again and again. In order to remain fertile, the soil needs a rotation of crops – which requires intelligent, attentive farming.
The supermarket / commercial farming model is highly convenient, but at a huge cost to the environment. Vast amounts of food on farms is wasted due to the cosmetic specifications set by supermarkets who reject ‘wonky veg’. Food is flown in from all over the world, polluting the atmosphere. Copious amounts of plastic is used and is mainly non recyclable. Don’t even get me started with what’s going to happen after we leave the EU.
Not only is it incredibly convenient to sign up and receive a veg box, it is cheaper, better for the planet, much tastier and healthier. Support UK farmers. Sign up to a veg box scheme!