Sunday, 2 May 2010

Vegetables in boxes

We quite often end up talking about where we might want to live in the future (both of us have ended up being kind of itinerant - I've lived in London for almost 10 years now and am on my 13th address, and the next move can't be too far away given the new addition...). And when we do, I always list 'good food shops' in my top priorities for the area.

This is because I know how much the available food sources affects what I eat.

I've lived in a Greek/Cypriot/Turkish area and subsisted almost entirely on houmous, pitta bread and vegetables (substantially reducing my food bill as the little local shops were so much cheaper than the too-far-away-to-walk-to supermarket and its tempting 2-for-1 deals on stuff you really don't want or need).

I've lived round the corner from a 24-hour shop and not much else and developed a worrying microwave pizza in the middle of the night habit.

I've lived in an area seemingly short on shops, but with one little Turkish grocery store that always managed to have perfect avocadoes, which I really missed when I moved away!

And I've lived 2 minutes walk from both a lovely organic shop and middle-eastern supermarket, both of which I could stop off at on the way home from work, which was an absolute treat.

Now, my closest food provider is a small supermarket, which has a paltry and overpriced selection of produce. I try to get to my nice organic shop on the weekend, but if I miss stocking up for one reason or another, then I end up in the miserable supermarket, and my evening meals (and wallet!) have suffered as a result.

So, fed up with this situation, I decided to give veg boxes a try again. I sampled an Abel and Cole box once, but wasn't that impressed for one reason or another and never went regular with it.

This time, I tried Riverford* out. We have a convenient hiding place now, which makes it more viable, and they deliver on Thursdays, which is the same day the cleaner comes - I quite liked the idea of arriving home to a clean house and a new box of veggies!

And, this is what we got:

I was really pleased - a good balanced selection of fruit and veg which all looked lovely and fresh and delicious. It's £10.95 for all that lot; I added up what I think I would have had to pay in a supermarket for it, and my estimate is probably a few quid more.

It delivered the kick up the backside that my cooking needed as well - at least for a couple of days! I'll try and post on what I cooked with this in the next day or so...

Anyone else got tips for good box services in London area or how they work for you? Would be interested to hear your views...

* basically, I picked Riverford because a while back I spent ages looking into everyone who delivered in London, and there was no clear winner. This time I couldn't be bothered with all the rigmarole of researching it all again so just chose the one whose name I could remember!


  1. are the boxes like the equivalent of CSA (Community supported agriculture) here in the US where you sign up to get weekly deliveries from a farm?

  2. I love the idea of veggie boxes (especially with kids making shopping harder) but I really like shopping at the shop with Owen. He counts the fruit and veg into the bag and knows everyone in the shop. I have orderd dog food online though, which is cheaper and way easier to get that way than lugging 24 tins round a shop with a child.
    Prices seem very good for what you got. Veg looks really nice and fresh

  3. Julia - I think it's similar, though I'm not too familiar with CSA schemes. Riverford is a nationwide scheme, but there are local farmers running it for different areas - most of the produce will come from this farm, but occasionally they supplement from Europe. Some schemes are stricter; there's one in Hackney, East London where everything is grown there; but some are less strict and even include airfreighted fruit and veg so you have to check them out according to what you want.

    K - I know what you mean about liking the shop. If I could get to the shop I like enough I would do that, because I find it a really nice experience. But the supermarket on the other hand is just depressing...