Jen's a mum exploring how to reduce her impact on the environment. She's discovered five reasons why veg boxes are an easy switch.
Vegetable boxes come in all shapes and sizes - and the produce within them does too. A concept that arose in the UK in the 1990s, it’s now a familiar term, even more so due to a spike in popularity at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020.
We’ve finally followed suit and signed up to receive a Groobox, from Groobarb’s Wild Farm in Cheshire.
As a family, we’d grown in curiosity about whether they’d be another way of reducing our environmental impact, and what other benefits they may, or may not, have.
It turns out there’s a ton of reasons why signing up to a fruit and veg box might make your life easier and healthier, whilst also giving you the warm fuzzies for doing your bit for the environment.
Read on for five reasons why signing up to a fruit and veg box is worth it.
Groobarbs Wild Farm Is Based in Cheshire, UK
Five Reasons Why You Should Get a Veg Box
- It's better for you
- There's less food waste
- They create fewer food miles
- They're usually plastic-free
- You're supporting local producers
1. It's Better for You
The fruit and veg we buy in the supermarket is not as fresh as we’d like to think. By the time it has been packed at source and distributed to the supermarkets, it may have been out of the ground for 48 hours or more. Then, it may hang around on the supermarket shelf for another two or three days before it gets in your hands.
As fresh food ages, its nutritional value deteriorates. So the more time that passes since it’s been picked, the less nutrients, flavour and food value it has to give you.
Buying fresh farm produce straight from the source means you’ll be getting more value out of every carrot you crunch.
2. There's Less Food Waste
Because it’s fresher, it’ll last longer. There’s no use-by date on fresh farm produce so you aren’t going to be influenced by a supermarket’s view of when your food’s had it.
Another big reason veg boxes reduce food waste is that vegetables haven’t had to pass a beauty contest to be sold at one of the big supermarkets. Farms that supply big supermarkets inevitably create a lot of food waste from veg that didn’t quite make the grade. Your food box veg will probably be less attractive, but hey, it’s the imperfections that make something lovable, right?
Thirdly because, hopefully, you’ll be more inspired to use it. You’ll be getting food that’s in season so you'll be forced to widen your horizons and your repertoire. How many of us just put in the same four or five vegetables in our trolley each shop? Our Groobox came with raw beetroot this time and also a recipe to try out. Plus there are more ideas on their website.
Apparently, the trick is looking at your ingredients and building your recipe from there instead of choosing a recipe and then searching for the ingredients. Friends, I’m still working on this...
3. They Create Fewer Food Miles
The couple that started the veg box concept in the 1990s was spurred on when they discovered that the produce they sold had travelled over 200 miles in one direction to a distribution centre, only to eventually come back the same distance to their local supermarket. In fact, 25% of all journeys made in the UK are taking food from source to supermarket. Buying local cuts out the middleman and cuts down our food’s carbon footprint.
A note of caution: a DEFRA study from 2005 suggested that the case for reducing food miles isn’t quite as simple as we’d like (though what ever is?). This article cites the problem of increased van use and also how some fruit and veg (such as tomatoes) use more energy to grow in the UK than to grow in Spain and transported to the UK. It’s certainly food for thought. Sorry, I had to.
4. They're Usually Plastic-Free
As fruit and veg boxes come straight from the farmer to us, producers don’t bother with wrapping things up in plastic - hurrah!
I don’t know about you, but since the start of the Covid pandemic, our food deliveries have come with mountains of plastic.
With our veg box delivery, we had next to no plastic. Instead, our potatoes were covered in soil.
5. You're Supporting Local Food Producers
Finally, it’s always good to be supporting local business rather than large multinational corporations. Supermarkets have their place, and we’re certainly not intending to forego them completely, but if I can put a bit more of my monthly spends in the pocket of a local farmer rather than a faceless supermarket chain, then I will.
How Should I Pick the Right Box for Me?
There are a few things you should consider before choosing to sign up to a subscription box.
- Some will deliver to your door, and some must be picked up from a local collection point. Inevitably collection services will be cheaper. It’s just a question of what’s feasible and what you’re willing to pay for.
- Do you want it to be 100% organic or are you more concerned about things like packaging or local produce? There are so many different environmental issues and we can’t all be gung ho for everything. If you’re big on organic, the Soil Association has a search function on its website.
- How flexible are they? Find out if you can cancel when you go on holiday. Can you opt out of certain veg (ahem celeriac, anyone?).
- Decide whether you’re happy to receive imported goods in your box. Some will stick firmly to local, but others choose a variety of sources in order to offer you a wider selection. As I’ve mentioned above, Spanish tomatoes may not necessarily be as carbon-hungry as UK-grown tomatoes, especially if they’re transported by boat.
- Do you want other groceries? Many companies offer dairy, bread and other produce, so keep an eye out.
Who Delivers Veg Boxes Near Me?
If you’ve read this far, hopefully that means you’re keen to give it a go. There are so many good options out there, it’s worth exploring how getting a veg box subscription could be worth it for you. They may cost more than sourcing your veg at the supermarket, but with so many benefits to them, I’m happy that we’re getting so much more benefit from eating this way.
If you want to know what the mainstream competitors are doing, the Guardian has put together this handy review. There may be some benefits from a large producer like Abel & Cole and Riverford, however, if you can find a small-scale local producer that suits your requirements then you know you’ll really be helping to support farmers and decentralise our food supply.
Find Your Nearest Local Veg Box
- Food Box Finder - Find Local Farm's Veg Box Delivery
Find your local veg box delivery service near you with with FoodBoxFinder. Support your local farms and organic produce.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Jen Potter