Friday, 23 September 2011

Food For Thought

Where does your food come from? Local food isn't a new issue but it's one that's easy not to think about and might seem hard to do something about.

When I started university my answer would have been Tesco. After a closer look at some plastic packaging I could probably have managed a country of origin or production for some foods. It's an interesting exercise. Pick a selection of foods from your fridge and cupboards, guess where they come from, then see if you're right. I got a shock when I found my apples had been flown in from Chile when I could see fresh, ripe apples growing outside in England.

Now, at least for fruit and veg, I've grown used to knowing country and county (even farm most of the time) before the food arrives home. I think that makes me quite unusual. No, I don't wander the supermarkets making lists of where each apple comes from. The key to my food knowledge is my veg box, which arrives fortnightly or weekly depending on how much I use/need each week.

My parents started having a veg box at home when I was a teenager, so I've grown up with the idea. But if you haven't heard of it before this is how they normally work:
  1. Order your box online or by phone
  2. Enter your delivery address and payment details
  3. Receive your veg box to your door
About as easy as ordering something from Amazon and just like Amazon once you set up your details and first order it just gets easier (isn't it interesting that things get easier when people want your money?). You can set up a regular order, so you don't have to do anything except receive your box each week, or you can add, change or cancel your order each week. You don't even have to be home when they deliver with some box schemes.

A quick search online brings up more than 10 different veg box schemes in my local area. I use Riverford Organic Veg which is quite a large scheme but has kept it's produce local by splitting into regional farm areas. This week my mini box (£9.85) contained (and came from):

  • Onions (UK)
  • Carrots (UK)
  • Broccoli (UK)
  • Sweet Potatoes (UK)
  • Cabbage (UK)
  • Lettuce (UK)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (Spain)
As well as only selling organic produce Riverford never airfreight their food, they ship it by boat or lorry which has a lower carbon footprint. My mini box claims to be suitable for 1-2 people for a week (for me often two weeks), usually includes potatoes, carrots and onions and always contains 7-8 different types of veg. The thing I love is that it changes every week. There's no wandering the supermarket deciding what to pick this week, you get whatever's ripe, in season and at its best.

I'll talk more about my veg box in the future; about how ethical/environmentally friendly it is or isn't, price comparisons with the supermarkets and what I'm getting each week as we head deeper into Autumn. Maybe even some recipes!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my blog. So if you're reading this please comment, even if it's just to say "Hello!"

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