Food waste has been one of the key focuses of environmental campaigners for many years now. The Soil Association suggests that 20 40 percent of fruit and vegetables never make it into our shops due to physical imperfections, and a WRAP report estimates that 90,000 tonnes of produce in the UK is sent to landfill. Globally around 30% of human-grade food is wasted (FAO). Meanwhile as large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables are wasted, access to these products is still an issue for many. According to charity Food Foundation, as of 2018, 3.7 million children in the UK alone were living in homes unable to afford to eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each week.
Veg boxes are becomingly an increasingly popular way for consumers to try a variety of vegetables and support local farmers, as well as reduce waste by avoiding excessive purchasing of unwanted produce. With a range of sizes, produce options and delivery frequencies, there’s lots of choice out there. Whether you’re looking to reduce plastic, cut down on costs or get out of a cooking rut, here are some of my favourites on offer this Autumn.
Since the plight of wonky veg in the UK was brought to light, efforts have been made to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste each year, and ensure more of it reaches the consumer. Oddbox’s Medium Veg Box is filled with ‘imperfect’ vegetables that would otherwise have gone to waste, saving 4kg CO2 and 835 litres of water on average. Each medium box contains 7-8 types of local and seasonal vegetables - perfect for small families.
Price: Medium Veg Box - £11.49 for 7-8 varieties of seasonal veg.
Riverford Farm’s Guy Watson started this seasonal veg box scheme by delivering organic vegetables to 30 local friends in Devon. Now they deliver 47,000 boxes a week to homes all around the UK, with much of their fruit and veg sourced from their regional farms. Whilst not all the products are locally sourced nowadays (they sell fruits year-round), this veg box combats waste, reduces food miles and encourages seasonal eating.
Price: Seasonal Organic Veg Box - £14.84 for 8 varieties of seasonal veg.
Farmdrop started as an ethical supermarket, aiming to pay fair prices for British farmers’ produce, cutting out the need for supermarkets. Their Purton Organic Family Veg Bundle contains a colourful mix of locally-sourced, organic veg, perfect for a small family for a week. Produce is selected from the closest farms possible, but occasionally this may mean sourcing seasonal produce from outside the UK.
Price: Purton Organic Family Veg Bundle - £14.94 for around 8 varieties of organic veg.
Morrison’s Too Good to Waste
Morrison’s Too Good to Waste box was launched at the end of 2018, providing shoppers with a very affordable way of eating a variety of fruit and veg that would otherwise be thrown out. The boxes are only available in store, and do not contain purely local/seasonal produce, but are being included here because they reduce unnecessary food waste, and are an affordable alternative to sometimes pricy veg boxes. Morrison’s also sell a ‘Wonky Veg’ box, containing vegetables that would otherwise never make it to supermarket shelves due to their ‘misshapen’ nature, despite being perfectly edible.
Milk & More
Remember the old days of waking up to fresh milk on your doorstep? British-based Milk & More now offers just that, but for organic veg, brought to your doorstep by 7am each week. Their organic vegetable and salad box contains a mix of seasonal produce from local suppliers. Most of the packaging is recyclable, but they still have a little work to do to become totally recyclable.
Price: Organic vegetable and salad box - £13 for 7 varieties of organic veg.
Based in Hackney, the Growing Communities veg scheme is about as local as you can get, with each vegetable you receive traceable back to a specific UK location. This not-for-profit veg box scheme gives back to local communities and small-scale farmers. Their standard box contains 8 varieties of seasonal veg, perfect for topping up a week’s worth of meals. The boxes are dropped off at collection points in East London weekly, encouraging communities to mingle and interact while they’re out.
Price: Standard Veg - £12 for a mix of 8 vegetables.