I recently set up a weekly order with Abel & Cole (I wasn’t very happy with my old delivery scheme and had previously tested some of Abel & Cole’s produce with fabulous results). I plumed for the Deluxe Organic Fruit Box and Seasonal Salad Box. Abel & Cole also, very kindly, sent me a Mixed Organic Fruit & Veg Box to be delivered free of charge for me to review.
Organic delivery boxes are becoming more and more popular, contrary to the view expressed on a recent Mary Queen of Shops episode. Basically one of the three sisters running the grocers said she didn’t think veg box schemes would get the slightest interest – she was wrong, the local people snapped them up! For those who didn’t watch the program, why not watch the short clip below.
There is something rather special about getting a vegetable box, something beyond knowing you’re buying organic – I mean let’s face it, you can buy organic stuff from any shop nowadays – the feeling is that of community, you can source local, fresh from the farm ingredients from a company you can trust. Now, before you all begin to shout, I know that is just me feeling all light of heart, woolly and contented. Abel & Cole are of course, as much a capitalist company as the next one – and therein lies tension. Capitalism – greed, grubby, yet vital in this day and age – destroys the pastoral. You can’t sell your cake and eat it, and the green wellied virtues of environmentalism sit uneasily with cold-blooded corporate self-interest.
But, and it’s a big but, who would you rather your money went to? A notoriously unethical supermarket chain or an ‘eco-co’ with values? I know who I would choose. And, anyhow what more ethical option is out there? Other than growing everything yourself?
Box schemes of course are not suited to everyone. I dare say if I were a city dweller with shops galore on my doorstep I mightn’t be so keen to use them. But, I don’t, I live out in the sticks with no shopping options but a post office and small convenience store. So unless I make a journey into the nearest town – only to be faced with the supermarkets – my options are limited to say the least.
I also happen to love the surprise element of the delivery box. It makes you think on your feet, encourages you to try out new ingredients and new recipes – gone is the option to eat in a repetitive or boring manner. Should you wish to have more order to your weekly cooking, you can go online to see what will be in your delivery that week, or you could create a box yourself from scratch.
So back to the boxes.
I was exceptionally pleased with the quality of all the produce.
All the boxes were packed full of exciting things. If you are very busy and if you add up the cost of motoring to the supermarket and the time involved I reckon that a weekly delivery is of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables is excellent value. The added bonus of course is that Abel & Cole do not only supply fruit and vegetables – they sell meats, fish, dairy produce (including fabulous clotted cream), artisan cheeses, breads and a few ‘ready meals’ to name but a few.
Abel and Cole offer a lot of flexibility. You can elect never to receive the fruit and veg that you dislike. A service my previous delivery company did not include.
One downside is that there is no indication on the produce or the receipt where the items have come from. In any supermarket it either states the country or in the case of much UK produce the county and even (in most cases) the farmer it’s from. The farm shop can and does do the same. Come on Abel & Cole this needs improving.
With some of the sumptuous salad ingredients I made a prawn & avocado salad, dotted liberally with the sweet, juicy heirloom tomatoes.
Dessert was no more complex than some of the sweet, juicy fruit, sploshed with a little orange blossom water – a trick picked up from a Nigella Lawson book many moons ago.