Thursday, January 28, 2010

Organic Extravagence


In the UK you have the organic veg box. In France we have the bio basket. An article in The Times today is all about how producers of bio boxes are having to fight the recession with innovation.

Many people feel they simply can't afford an organic veggie box and are reducing their bills by cutting out the luxury of organic veg. However, when you look at Riverford Farm's website, for example, you see that their organic veg is often around 20% cheaper than supermarket organic veg. Their box for 3-4 people for a week costs £14.55 and contains 10 different veggies. They don't say how much it weighs though.

Compare that with a local bio basket (organic = bio in French). Terre2Sens will deliver (free) a basket, for which you have to pay a one-off consigne of 4€, of 8-10 organic veggies for 30€ which is £26. It weighs 7-8kg. Unlike, Riverford, where some of the veggies are imported and bought in London, Terre2Sens' veggies are all locally produced. If it don't grow here, you don't get it. This is fine, but if you want tomatoes or parsley in winter - two basics - you have to get them elsewhere and add that cost.

This is what is in this week's basket: lettuce, spring onions, Charlotte spuds, raw beetroot, cabbage-turnip, turnips, fennel, onions, Kiwi, clementines, pomelos. There is not a huge variety of veg there, and I can't stand beetroot. You have no choice about what you get in the basket. You take it or leave it. Looking at the list, my boys would leave most of it. However, you are not locked into a contract of having to take a basket per week so you are not obliged to buy a basket of waste.

This is what is in Riverford's box: sante potatoes UK, carrots UK, shallots NL, green batavia lettuce FR, black kale UK, tomatoes ES, jerusalem artichokes UK, calabrese broccoli IT, leeks UK, butternut squash FR. I'm all for eating seasonally as much as possible, and wouldn't want to have, for example, Italian broccoli. With Riverford, you can pick and choose, both veg and delivery schedules.

I was considering trying out the bio basket, but I'm not so sure now. I went to the supermarket yesterday and bought roughly 6kg of fruit and veg for 9€. Okay it wasn't organic, but the cost of the organic box (20€ for 5kg) plus extras would more than double my fruit and veg bill. That's a toughie!

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