I can talk a good talk about buying locally and eating ethically but it’s all too easy to get sucked in by the Tesco machine and find yourself buying strawberries imported from Chile. So when we moved home at the beginning of March the lady of the manor and I made a deliberate decision to do something about it.
We finally got our arses in gear and arrange a weekly veg box from a local supplier just outside of Swindon. We did look at the well known national suppliers but decided against them for a number of reasons, they seemed to contain imported vegetables fairly regularly and still generate food miles given where the main farms are based. There wasn’t any difference in price so buying from a local supplier felt like the obvious choice.
The objective of having a veg box is to force ourselves to both eat seasonally and also eat more variety of vegetables. When you buy from a supermarket it takes some work to check where the vegetables have come from and to see what’s in season with many vegetables available all year round. A veg box ensures you are eating whatever is available at that point of the year which will be a combination of freshly picked and taken from storage. This should of course also mean the veg is at its tastiest best!
It’s definitely been a learning curve to adapt our meal planning and eating habits to this new setup to avoid having lots of wastage at the end of the week. We’ve now got into the habit of planning our meals on a Tuesday night when the contents of the veg box is published on the suppliers website. We tick off each item from the list so that we know we’ve used them all, it challenges you to find new recipes to use them all up and not just make the same old things.
Twitter is your best friend here, the greatest cook book you can ever have, a simple tweet of ‘how can I use this’ and within a few minutes you will have at least 5 suggestions!
The final addition to this new approach is we now also get a monthly meat box from the same supplier. At the beginning of each month we get a box full of meaty goodness delivered that we pop in the freezer. It’s great quality organic and free range meat that is mainly from their own farm so again ticking the local box. The box changes our eating habits in the same way as the veg box, we are forced to eat more variety and think of ways to use up each item brings new dishes to our repertoire each week.
So far we’re loving it, sure we may have too many potatoes sometimes but the box we’ve chosen includes a good variety without too many of the more exotic things that never get eaten. Cost wise I don’t think it’s any more than we were spending before; the veg box is £15 a week and the meat box £80 a month. A reasonable price for the standard of food you get and something we’re happy to pay, preferring to sacrifice elsewhere to ensure we eat well.
It’s also fun getting Matilda involved in food (and Henry soon), whenever it’s delivered she helps unpack and asks us what every item is. So we tell her and try to link it to what she see’s in the fields etc. I want her to know that she’s eating a chicken, the same ones she feeds grass to down the road and what it looks like once it’s been plucked. Then she can see that we choose to buy meat from animals that have been treated well and what a piece of meat looks like.
Has anyone else made a change in this way or have any top tips for eating seasonally?