Good Food Blog
The tyranny of the veg boxPosted at 10:50AM, 25 March 2009 by Jessica Gunn - Features editor - olive magazine
Anyone who gets a veg box will know that mix of pleasurable anticipation, combined with just a touch of dread, which comes on the day of its arrival. Yes, it means a lovely new stock of fruit and veg - fresh-from-the-farm muddy and guaranteed to outstrip its supermarket counterparts on taste and price; but it also means you'll have to think up yet more things to do with swedes. And turnips. And probably parsnips too.
This isn't veg from a faceless supermarket - this is veg grown by farmers - real people who drive tractors
Right now it's all about the root veg. Do any other veg box users out there feel like there's been a steady flow of root veg for something close to eternity now? Last year, it was kale - and chard. Relentless weeks of it. I made chard, tomato and cheese pies. I thought of as many ways as possible to combine chard/kale with pasta (cooking it with caramelised onions, balsamic vinegar, black olives and adding feta at the end is my fave) and I spent a long time crawling bbcgoodfood.com for recipes that might save me from throwing anything away - Chunky minestrone soup is the ultimate veg box user-upper - trust me people, I've done the research. Or see here for some very helpful olive suggestions on what to do with kale. I mean, this isn't veg from a faceless supermarket - this is veg grown by farmers - real people who drive tractors. I owe it to them, the planet (food waste - very bad, produces lots of methane) and my own wallet not to waste this stuff.
Recently I met Guy Watson, chief man at Riverford Organics, from where my veg box comes. He asked if my veg box stressed me out. When I admitted that yes, perhaps it did just a little bit, he seemed slightly exasperated and asked why I got one.
I get one, I tried to explain, because I buy in to the whole veg box thing, I really do - the veg tastes fantastic and it's cheaper than the supermarket. But that doesn't mean to say there's not a degree of baggage that comes with it - mostly in the form of guilt. Guilt at throwing anything away; guilt at not really wanting any more swede in my life and knowing that what I truly yearn for are some juicy red peppers from somewhere involving a huge carbon footprint; guilt at resenting the fact that I have to scrub the mud off my veg when I know it really just proves how fresh it is.
But ultimately, I can live with that. Ordering veg every fortnight instead of weekly has removed a lot of the veg box anxiety from my life. Not having a car also means I really appreciate the delivery side of things - especially as I can get lovely cheese, milk, eggs and even meat delivered to my door - with no delivery costs and at very reasonable prices.
So how do you feel about the organic veg box in your life? Do you look forward to your weekly arrival or do you sometimes dread it? Have you ever had a really bad experience with your veg box and would you recommend any suppliers over others?