Almost two years ago, when I first had a few weeks of going supermarket-free, I ordered an organic veg box from a local farm. I was pretty delighted with my fortnightly delivery and since then I have played about with the order – adding fruit and eggs, making it plastic-free and increasing it to once a week. It was even the inspiration of a number of blog posts, in which I demonstrated ways to use it up.
Over time though, I’ve found myself falling a little out of love with my veg box. As I upped the delivery and increased its frequency, it became so demanding! The novelty of our wholesome and eclectic delivery had worn off somewhat, and we’d slightly dread the weekly arrival, that needed unpacked and cleaned up to fit in the fridge. As the months passed, we were finding that we weren’t using up our whole delivery because – let’s be honest – we’d not put the necessary time into meal planning and preparation.
Things finally came to a head when our compost bin got full a few months ago. We forced ourselves to look at what we were binning each week. Too much. The advantages of supporting a local supplier and buying organic were being compromised by wasting food and money.
This is the empty compost bin – the full one isn’t pretty!
When I look at what ‘went wrong’, the answer is twofold:
Firstly, we stopped putting so much effort into using up our veg (the fruit has never been so much of a problem). When we started the veg box, I was supermarket-free and the easiest way to make meals was to use what was in the house. The children were also very small and it was important to me that they ate home cooked food, made with fresh organic ingredients. Secondly, although I had less child-free time then, ironically I had more time for cooking, as I could do things while they entertained each other. Now I am constantly in and out dropping them at different activities. With my eldest away for most of the day now, my youngest needs me as a replacement playmate and that, of course, is my priority.
We made the decision to reduce our delivery back to fortnightly, which has been a relief and far more manageable. However, I still don’t feel I’ve achieved the perfect balance. For starters, the farm closed over the festive period, when our box was to be dropped off, which meant that we didn’t get a delivery for four weeks. FOUR WEEKS!!!There’s nothing like absence for making the heart grow fonder. We were constantly running out of fruit and the kids weren’t happy about that at all…
I also found that I was buying more fruit and veg from the supermarket again which makes me really really unhappy 😦 I felt guilty for spending more money there (as opposed to buying local), the prices aren’t that cheap (it can be downright expensive to buy the organic there that I’ve got so used to), everything looks too perfect and so I worried about fertilisers. Finally, almost everything comes wrapped in plastic and/or is sitting in a polystyrene tray.
All the fruit & veg here is swathed in plastic
So what’s the solution?
The only real answer that I can come up with is that I’ll need to get cooking again! Although the fortnightly delivery is much easier, I don’t think it’ll be enough to sustain us when we go supermarket-free again over Lent.
I have lost my enthusiasm for cooking and I think the only remedy for that is to settle down with the internet, find some exciting new recipes and give myself some time to try them out. (I used to particularly enjoy cooking with the music turned up and a glass of wine as a treat. Since the children have become a bit older though, I seem to have dispensed with the kitchen – it turns out I can still enjoy the music and wine, but in a different environment and with friends…!)
Finally, I could use the freezer a bit more. Although I batch cook, I could routinely prepare veg for freezing if I don’t have time to make them into an actual meal. I should also be giving away any veg I can’t use. If I give it to the right people, I occasionally get some back that has been cooked into something for me!
If you’ve experienced falling out of love with your veg box, let me know. Perhaps we can support each other in making this challenging relationship work 😉