Riverford: Middle class food crisis or just plain classy?

logoOn the hearsay grapevine of internet-mainly-twaddle, I heard that Barack Obama wears only blue or grey suits to cut down on non-vital decisions. I admire that. Having recently ‘de-cluttered’ my own on-line life (I now have a phone that is just a phone and a camera that just takes pictures) because it felt like some sort of prostitution of the soul (pretentious I know but stay with me), it is a relief. Less can definitely be more.

I digress massively. Suffice to sum up that ordering your first Riverford box is 1) like getting a present you forgot about asking for and 2) is intelligent outsourcing of non-vital decisions to someone else à la Barack Obama. So on that basis, should we all be getting one?

This is what I got from my mini fruit and veg box plus a meat box for £29.45:

Organic beef mince, organic pork spare rib steaks, organic beef roasting joint.

2 peppers, 1 small aubergine, 2 small cucumbers, 1 small bag fresh peas in the pod, 6 clementines, 4 nectarines, 1 large bag of cabbage.

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The nectarines unfortunately went mouldy pretty quickly. The clementines were tough so I jammed them. This is what I cooked:

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Clementine and lemon marmalade (recipe below).

Chilli-con-carne with fresh peas and cucumber salad

Beef wellington with roasted aubergine

Beach barbecued pork spare rib steaks

Fried spring greens with soy, sesame and 2 eggs (eggs not included)

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Advantages:

Excellent service and on-line resources.

For one person it equated to about two weeks’ worth of food with bread, milk and other sundries (Riverford cat food mini box anyone?) on top; for two people, it would be a decent feed for a week and cost-wise, pretty reasonable too.

I tried different meats that I would rarely buy, such as the very tender spare rib steaks and a large bag full of cabbage meant that I was forced to make something interesting out of it.

Intellectual outsourcing and reduced supermarket brain-bashing was a massive plus, not to mention cutting down on petrol and time.

Reduced waste – Riverford re-collect the boxes and meat packaging, most of the fruit and veg was loose in the box.

Riverford recipe suggestions in the little booklet that comes with the box or on-line make you a more adventurous cook.

Disadvantages:

The nectarines that went mouldy but these will be replaced in my next box.

You may feel creatively confined by the choice of seasonal veg (I didn’t).

While the meat certainly felt like it was value for money as well as ethical, I’m not sure the fruit and veg were and I rather like to squeeze the cheeks of my own nectarines before purchasing.

Overall: Highly recommended for transforming the weekly shop and eliminating the likes of last-minute spontaneous snatching of multi-value packs of Cadbury’s at the till and a smug slap on the back for intelligent outsourcing. Try it. It’s classy and middle class.

Recipe for easy clementine and lemon marmalade:

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1kg of clementine including 2 lemons for extra pectin

1 litre of water

500g granulated sugar

3 jam jars (sterilised by either putting into the oven or by pouring boiling water over them)

Boil the fruit in the water until soft (about an hour)

Add the sugar, bring to the boil and keep at a simmer (an occasional bubble) for about 2 hours or until a skin forms when you place a small amount on a saucer and leave to cool.

Pour into jars and enjoy with fresh sourdough bread and a cup of coffee.

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10 thoughts on “Riverford: Middle class food crisis or just plain classy?

  1. Johanna

    I love veg boxes, I think they’re a great way of kind of learning what’s in season again and being encouraged to try out new stuff! I did a veg box challenge on my blog over a couple of weeks, where I made sure to use every last bit (the blogging about it bit made me stick to it better 😉 ). It was such good fun! I live with parents at the moment, but as soon as I’m in my own place again, I want to start ordering fruit and veg boxes again

    (just in case you’re interested in the veg box challenge, here’s a link http://kirschplunder.wordpress.com/category/veg-box-challenge/

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  2. When I used to get veg boxes I found that I saved a fortune by just not going to the supermarket so much so even if you do pay a bit more for the fruit and veg, overall you save loads by not buying rubbish that you don’t really want. Plus I did find myself eating a lot more fruit and veg than I used to.

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  3. Lee

    I’ve been a veg box advocate for quite a while. Having visited the Riverford farmshop a few times and inadvertently turned into their sprawling distribution depot though I avoid them like the plague. It rather seems to defeat the point for me of buying locally and, as far as possible, seasonally. There are lots of local vegbox schemes and, in my experience, these often work out cheaper than supermarkets and, certainly, cheaper than the big national conglomerates like Riverford and Abel and Cole. Of course, what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for you but I would urge you to check out your local independent options.

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    • good point Lee and in fact there are a couple of very really good ones in Cornwall. I have not had the pleasure of visiting the sprawling depot of Riverford – does not sound good! More detail? Lucy and Tor at Cornish Food Box are excellent – they use only Cornish which is pretty impressive and they have a great little shop in Truro. Fizzicles et al are Haribo sweets 🙂

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      • Lee

        Hi, I just tried looking for photos of the depot online but couldn’t find any. Perhaps my shocked brain enlarged it and made it worse than it was? I don’t know. But I do think that vegboxes should be local (sorry if I came across a bit ranting in my previous reply!).

        Thanks for the info on the sweets too. I guess it’s been so long since I bought sweets that I just don’t know what they’re called anymore….

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    • Hi Rachel, I have the same issue – that I like to test and choose stuff myself, but the meat box was interesting as we ended up trying cuts we would never normally have eaten and they were delicious!

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  4. When we didn’t have anywhere to grow our own, we used to get a veg box and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much veg as I did then – I was a lot healthier than I am now. My mother swears by her Riverford veg box and as you say, if something isn’t up to scratch, they are happy to replace. At least your clementines didn’t go to waste.

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