Thursday, 16 April 2009

A Big Box of Beauty

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.
(Psalm 104:14,15)
Here are the contents of my organic box. It all looked so beautiful piled up on my work surface, like an 18th century still life, that I couldn't resist taking one of my very poor photos and showing you all. I'm particularly glad of heart about the first of the English asparagus, which we'll be eating tonight, just with melted butter. What a seasonal treat!
I didn't want this post to be one of my patented, overly verbose, essays, but I did have one or two thoughts that I wanted to share, so here goes!
First, I find it ever-increasingly wonderful that we are given such gifts of beauty to appreciate in our everyday lives. Even the humble cauliflower has a luscious beauty all of its own, it's just that we often don't stop and take a moment to appreciate it, we forget about these natural God-given gifts and lack gratitude, it's a shame really, because these rare moments of true appreciation can become a prayer.
Secondly, and on a more practical level, I've never quite understood why people find purchasing organic boxes so expensive. Granted there's a knack to it, and I think you have to be a pretty proficient and creative cook to incorporate box veg into your daily meals, but expensive they aren't. Here's the list of what I received today, all for £13.75.
Four pints of organic milk
A bundle of asparagus
A Lollo Rosso lettuce
A bunch of organic, FT and shipped not flown, bananas
Several apples
A few pears
A box of mushrooms
A box of tomatoes
A small cucumber
A cauliflower
A head of pak choi
I've compared the cost of this box to supermarket non-organic equivalents and it came to £14.90. However, I suppose it all comes out as expensive if you're throwing half of the veg away at the end of the week, but I have developed a way of minimising waste and getting the most out of your organic box.
  • First, go for a box which contains fruit as well as veg, especially if you have children. Not only do you tend to get very kid-friendly fruits, such as apples and bananas, but you often get some expensive exotics too, such as mangoes and pineapples; a fine treat and a nice surprise. This eliminates some of the veg waste as bananas and apples keep well and are always eaten as snack in lunch boxes.
  • The company who provides my box gives away surplus milk to those who buy milk with them on a regular basis. The dairy often has a surplus and they don't want to waste it, so you tend to be quids in.
  • When your box arrives examine it in terms of what is most perishable. So we're eating the asparagus tonight, because it's best eaten very fresh and we'll also have BLTs to use the lettuce and tomatoes. The pak choi will do for tomorrow as I'm doing salmon with garlic and ginger, and the cauliflower and mushrooms can be eaten as and when. eat the most perishable first then they won't go off.
  • Do your weekly shop and meal planning the day after the box arrives. That way you can plan the veg into your normal meals without having to re-jig everything.
  • Get to know your veg box man or lady. Not only are you likely to get freebies (see milk) if you're a friendly and regular customer but also you get to have a personal relationship with a local business person who like food. This is good, we need more of this!

Well, I really must go. The kids are painting in the kitchen and I should supervise! Happy veg eating my friends!


Gumbo Lily said...

It's a beautiful still-life! I don't have a boxed veggie person, but I look forward to growing my own this summer.


Zillah said...

I have to confess to being a veg box addict. We get a double one on Thursdays (about twice the size of yours, I think) and a single one on Tuesdays, which arrives together with milk, cream and chicken (including organic boiling fowl for £3!!).

I very much endorse your tips - especially about getting to know your veg box person. Ours both come from local concerns and we are extremely well served by them.


Tan said...

great stuff Dulce, I just love menu planning around what I have, it's fun!

Niki RuralWritings said...

we don't get organic boxes here, but we do grow an extensive garden and can alot of it for the winter. Beautiful photo

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Jody
I have a small patch, but am no way self-sufficient in veg. I love my organic box!

Hi Zillah
I'd love to have a £3 boiling fowl. What a bargain!

Hi Tan
I think it forces me to be creative and come out of my culinary rut.

Hi Niki
I do a lot of preserving too, but mostly hedgerow stuff. I don't grow enough of my own fruit to can garden produce, it mostly gets eaten, but I do visit a pick-your-own farm, to salve my canning bug!

Nan said...

Wonderful! It all looks so appealing, especially to this winter-weary fan of organic produce. Our farmers markets begin in a month, thank goodness. My chives have popped up and I saw a little rhubarb breaking through the soil the other day. Spring has truly sprung.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I completely agree--there is an amazing amount of beauty in common things, and they give us plenty of reason to praise God. I'm always struck by what an amazing job He's done with everything that grows. Frankly, I can't imagine how you can be an atheist with all this wonder around us all the time.


Seraphim said...

Hurrah! I am very much a veggie box girl. We get one evey Tuesday. £10 including delivery, including a dozen organic eggs and enough veg to last us every evening meal for a whole week!
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some asparagus soon...yours looks lovely, I hope you enjoy it!

- Sera

Anonymous said...

The tomatoes look like beauties.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Nan
My kids like to much on chives as they play in the garden...their friends don't seem to mind the onion breath too much! We're 60 or so degrees here, very spring-like and blossomy.

Hi Frances
For some reason I wanted to qquote Einstein when I read your comment, but typical me, I just can't remember the quotation!

Hi Seraphim
It was a lovely treat and we gobbled it up in appreciative silence!

Hi Sarah
They were luscious!

Jo said...

Have just discovered your blog, and am enjoying it a lot. We get a huge box of organic veg each fortnight, and I have found that lots of veg will freeze well without cooking if peeled and cut up right way. Broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato - it all goes straight in the freezer, and I have a fortnight of already prepared vegies. Happy days!

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Jo
I've never thought of freezing it. Although I do soup it and then freeze it. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog, welcome!