Organic Vegetable Boxes – A small step in the right direction

Riverford Organic Farms
Riverford Organic Farms

During my pregnancy and after I had my baby I have been trying to buy organic whenever possible. I have been drinking organic milk, cucumber and tomato for years as I think they taste a lot better. My husband didn’t believe  that I could tell the difference in taste between organic and non-organic food so he bought both organic and non-organic milk, tomatoes and blueberries to do a blind taste test with me. I got the milk and tomatoes right! but I couldn’t tell the difference in taste in the blueberries- they tasted the same to me! But organic is not all about taste. Part of the reason for the lack of taste in non-organic vegetables is due to the pesticides and irradiation. Whilst there are debates going on as to whether organic food holds more nutrients than non-organic food, organic food will not pollute your body with chemicals which make it harder for your body to absorb the nutrients.

One of my main reasons for switching was listening to the UK Food Group, Eating Better Campaign and The Soil Association on the importance of biodiversity and local produce; the EU commission on the global food chain; as well as the movement of food sovereignty. Food Sovereignty is the right of every person to have a say in the food system around them. Therefore local consumers, producers and the environment should be at the heart of food systems rather than transnational corporations. Related to this, the Eating Better Campaign, promoted by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, calls for the government and food industry to eat better – that’s less meat and more vegetables- which will help to create sustainable food systems. This will not only give us, the consumer, healthier lifestyles but will also help farmers and animal welfare standards AND the environment. Right now the system is NOT sustainable and can’t meet future food needs of the world population. The answer is not to just blindly produce MORE food, rather produce less waste and promote a better way of eating – promoting local ecological food systems which also enhance biodiversity (AKA Agro-ecological approaches) as well as ensuring everyone has enough food and adequate nutrition. This is the sustainable approach.

But of course the main reason for wanting to eat organic is the health of my child. Pesticides are known to cause cancer, skin problems and other diseases and I don’t want that in my child’s food. I know it is unrealistic of me to go completely organic- after all going to McDonald’s on occasion is a right of passage in any childhood these days! and I’m not going to be growing vegetables in my backyard just yet! (although my dream is to one day….with my own chickens!) But for everyday meals I want the healthiest choice.

I am therefore trying to go organic wherever possible (starting with food). To start this I am joining up to a local organic fruit and vegetable box scheme.  Now, I’ve heard a lot of my friends say that organic is expensive. But I think there are ways to overcome this. Firstly buying organic from local box schemes, farmers markets or community supported farm groups (CSAs) is cheaper than buying it from supermarkets. Also, you can get creative with your menu choices- for example cook up a big batch of stew, hot pot or soup that will last for a few days- this will not only save money but also your time! Something important for all of us mums! Also, some of my family members bulk buy from farmers markets and split the vegetables between themselves- this is often even cheaper than buying non-organic veg from supermarkets!

I went with Riverford box scheme. Riverford started in Devon and now has organic farms all over the country providing organic vegetables, dairy and meat. Also in Buckinghamshire there is another box service called Ten mile menu and another large box scheme serving a lot of the country is Abel & Cole. We went with Riverford because they have won various awards for taste and are really strong on seasonal products as well as providing us with a free cook book! We chose to get a small box delivered weekly for £13. This may seem like a lot ….but you get A LOT of vegetables! We will see how it goes and may get it once every 2 weeks if we don’t manage to eat everything (although I think we will and will probably end up buying our meat from them too!). And in August 2013 a price comparison of Riverford with big supermarket’s organic products found that Riverford was 58% cheaper than buying organic veg from Tesco, Sainsburys or Waitrose- now, if that doesn’t convince you I don’t know what will!

I will keep you posted on what I think of the veg boxes we get and what I cook with them! Stay tuned! I’m very excited!!

Has anyone joined a community farm scheme?

Can anyone recommend good organic baby products?

Organic washing powder- yes or no?

If anyone is interested in the Eating Better Campaign you can see their website here and Facebook page here.

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