Monday, 24 January 2011
Organic Fruit & Veg Boxes
When we moved to a house with a garden at the end of last summer, I decided I would embrace country (OK zone 2) living and grow my own vegetables. But so far the spot earmarked for my vegetable garden contains nothing more exciting than a few blades of grass and the occasional coke can that's been chucked over the wall. In my defence it has been winter and I was working hideously long hours until recently, but there's also the reality that it's a lot of hard work. So, as a stop-gap alternative to complete self-sufficiency I have started having organic fruit and veg boxes delivered.
I was unsure which company to go for and liked the idea of going for a small local producer, but after quite a big of research I opted for Abel & Cole. The thing I really liked about their scheme is that, each week, you have a lot of control over the contents of your box. That can be really useful if there are certain foods you don't get on with - citrus fruits are sadly not my friends - but it's also handy to be able to skip, for instance, tomatoes if you haven't managed to use up all of the previous week's supply.
Like most of the other organic box companies, Abel & Cole will also deliver other items, from organic dairy produce - I'm loving a regular supply of milk and eggs - to cleaning products. You can have any of these items as one-offs or as part of your regular weekly delivery.
I think perhaps the biggest surprise has been just how many new and interesting vegetables I've been receiving. They tend to mix it up so that you don't get the same thing each week which means you don't get stuck in a cooking rut. My friend told me how her organic box delivery had totally revitalised her love of cooking and I can really see what she means. Despite having been a vegetarian for fifteen or so years, for the last few weeks I've been cooking with ingredients I rarely, if ever, bought.
So, beetroots became a really delicious Borscht (even Coffee Boy loved it and he is not usually a fan of soup for dinner); turnips coupled up with potatoes to make a tasty mash to accompany a homemade pie; parsnips (usually reserved for Christmas) were roasted with olive oil and maple syrup to accompany a homemade tomato and mozzarella tart. And I haven't even begun to think about what I will do with this week's black salsify and jerusalem artichokes! It really has been fun trying veg that I previously would never have bought; it's amazing how habitual your cooking can become - and for me it's good to be forced to move away from my usual Mediterranean vegetables.
If you haven't tried having an organic box before I can heartily recommend it. The only catch is that you'll need to be at home on delivery day, or have somewhere safe for the delivery person to leave it. But if you can make that work I've found it interesting, fun and surprisingly cheap to completely shake up my cooking. And if you do already do it, I'd love to hear about some of your favourite root-vegetable recipes!
All images Abel & Cole