Roasted Rosemary Winter Vegetables (Full of Plants)
Sign up to a local veg box, to help support your local farmers. Many are organic (if you garden without chemicals but can’t afford to register with Soil Association, you can use the alternative at Wholesome Food Association). It only costs a bean and works on trust, so you can then carry ‘organic certification’ without the time and expense, which some farmers can’t do.
Keep boxes in a safe place, as some items (garlic, onion) are toxic to pets (they have no covers). Keep ice gel boxes away from pets and children.
Most boxes offer a week’s trial, and you’re usually free to cancel any time. Some even include recipe sheets, so you know what to do with that giant purple cauliflower!
The smaller the scheme, usually the cheaper it is. And there’s no plastic packaging, you just leave out your empty box for collection, and get a new one the next week. A few also offer other groceries like bread.
So how does a local veg box work? Most farmers deliver a seasonal ‘surprise’ box to each week or fortnight (you can usually opt to swap if you don’t like Brussels sprouts). And if you go on holiday, you can postpone your box (leftover food usually goes to local food banks). Some larger schemes let you choose the veggies you want, but most assume you’ll just eat what ripens that week. Fresh from the farm, it tastes better too.
The benefits are immense. It helps to promote food security in your area, so people don’t always rely on supermarket food. And even if you live in a ‘food desert’ with little local food, you can order a veg box.
In England, we have what’s known as the ‘hungry gap’, when not much grows. So for these winter months, you may find your box scheme has to import produce (unless they have a polytunnel). If so, you’ll find that most don’t air-freight. So even if your oranges and bananas will arrive by ship. And if you eat bananas, you don’t have to choose between Fair Trade (no plastic) or organic (plastic, to keep separated from other produce). If it’s all organic, no plastic is needed.
In London, two good veg boxes are One Organic (North London) which supplies fruits and veggies weekly throughout London, using a friendly reliable service that also delivers fresh bread. And ODDBOX offers truly leftover waste veggies that would be thrown away, delivered in boxes straight to your door. This company rescues fresh fruit and veg that is ‘too odd, too big, too small’ and delivers it to your doorstep overnight.