Nothing like a surprise in the post is there? Who doesn’t love a parcel arriving on the doorstep? Even when it’s expected and we have an inkling of what’s inside, there’s a frisson of excitement in unwrapping something unknown to discover the joys within.
This is certainly the case for me when I get my organic veg box. Even though I have an allotment, I still top up, especially in the winter months - in my view there can never be too much veg in the fridge. Having a veg box is a central part of my cooking routine now. Here’s why:
1) It's so easy!
Gone are the days when you got a box of who-knows-what which you couldn’t change and had to order a fortnight in advance. Now, you can adjust your box contents based on your own preferences, add other groceries along the way and amend your order until a day or so before delivery. Holiday breaks and temporary pauses are as easy as clicking a button. In the face of supermarkets offering home delivery, the organic veg box companies have upped their game and are just as good as the big online grocery stores now – in fact they are better, prettier, tastier and without so much plastic.
2) It's a terrific way to discover new veg.
I’ll confess this can seem a bit more of a challenge than a benefit at first. I would groan when I first started getting kohlrabi in my veg box. But, persevere and after a few weeks you’ll have a host of recipes for kohlrabi (or whatever your personal veg nemesis is) and be positively glad to see it appear yet again. Yes, it takes some thought and some determination, but it’s so important that we broaden the range of veg we eat and a veg box is a great way to encourage yourself to do that.
3) You can’t help but be healthier.
Don’t under estimate the health benefits of that ‘what are we going to do with all this beetroot?’ moment. When you’re a veg box veteran a plate of roast beetroot with a little feta crumbled on top will be a regular feast. Plus, just having veg to hand means you’ll graze on an apple that catches your eye as you open the fridge, sling a few odds and ends of carrot in a stew because you noticed them in the draw and chop a few leaves to accompany that mid-week omelette – just because they were there looking at you in the fridge, asking to be eaten. The more veg on offer, the more you will eat.
4) You get all the benefits of organic - fewer pesticides, no GM, sustainable farming methods.
When you open a veg box there is mud on the veg, the apples are not Disney-Snow-White shiny, the carrots are all different shapes, even the odd snail finds its way in there. And this is all to the good. But it can be a bit of a shock at first. We’ve become so used to our veg being scrubbed, buffed and standardized that when we see real food straight out of the fields we have to retrain ourselves that this is a good, in fact better, quality option.
5) Get in tune with the seasons.
Most prosaically, but for me most crucially, an organic veg box reconnects us with nature. I know this sounds a bit hippy, but stay with me. When the spring is slow and wet, the crops you get in your veg box are affected (quite seriously this year). When the sun shines all through October you get more courgettes in your box. When the strawberries arrive they are fleeting, small and incredibly sweet.
This is because, if you pick a UK only veg box, you will be sent what Nature has given them. I was once told that nature is a partner not a supplier and never was this more apparent than in a veg box delivery. Yes, it means things can be unpredictable, oddly shaped and a bit muddy – but that’s how food is supposed to be. The veg box is a little microcosm, the ebb and flow of nature concentrated into one little box. For me, this is a fabulous because contact with nature is great for our well-being. A veg box reminds us that nature isn’t something we have to go and visit in the countryside, it’s right here in our fridge.
If you aren’t already a veg box veteran, you can find your local delivery by visiting the Soil Association's map.