The Organic Veg Conundrum

Organic Veg, Kale, Plastics and the Allotment!

I have been thinking about signing up to an organic veg box scheme for a very long time but there is one thing putting me off – KALE… It may be a super food but no amount of ‘super’ is going to make it palatable to my uncultured taste buds. Even when it is hidden away in soup it is a no-go for me which creates a very British stumbling block to signing up to a veg box scheme as everyone I know who gets a veg box says you end up with loads of kale during the winter months.

Veg Box Schemes

Being slightly naïve I was still hopeful that this problem could be surmounted so I called my local veg box company and explained my ‘Kale problem’. The woman on the phone didn’t just explain to me that there would be kale in my organic veg box each week, no, she went one step further and laughed uproariously that I could even consider a world where kale wouldn’t be in my box during the winter months. This seemed to signal the end of the organic veg box dream before it had even begun.

The other factor that I couldn’t quite get my head around when considering a veg box scheme was the fact that you didn’t get to choose what veg you had, instead, it was a nice little surprise each week. I know that lots of people love this element of veg box schemes as it allows them to be adventurous in the kitchen. However, this is my idea of hell. I can cook reasonably well but I like to plan the family meals in advance, writing my shopping list around the recipes. The thought of having to be spontaneous in the kitchen and ‘rustle up’ a healthy and nutritious meal using weird and wonderful veg is just not me. Add two children into the mix who will only eat broccoli, potatoes and peas and it is a disaster waiting to happen.

Organic Produce and Supermarkets

The next option was to go to our local supermarket which had recently increased the selection of organic fruit and veg. This started off OK as they stocked most of the stuff that we would normally buy and at reasonable prices. However, it all went rapidly downhill when I got slightly obsessed with reducing our plastic waste. All of the fresh organic produce we were buying came in plastic packaging with no option to buy it loose. It got to the point where I just couldn’t cope with opening the fridge to a sight of vegetables wrapped in plastic so we decided to shop at the local farm shop instead where it may not be organic but at least there were no plastics involved and we were supporting local businesses.

The Science Behind Organic Produce

The difficulties I was having switching to organic produce led to me doing a bit more research on the evidence behind claims that eating organic fruit and veg was better for your health. From what I was reading there seemed to be clear links showing that organic farming was better for the environment but conflicting research when it came to proven benefits for your health. However, I have a firm belief that subjecting our bodies to fewer chemicals can only be a positive thing and as an environmentalist it is a bit of a no brainer.

All of this research did lead to me finding out more about how switching just a few of the ‘worst offenders’ can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80%. This is how I first came across the ‘dirty dozen’; 12 fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic as they have been found to have a higher proportion of residual pesticides on them. The ‘dirty dozen’ includes strawberries, peaches, celery, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach,kale and collard greens, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes and lettuce.

When I read this my first thought was, ‘well of course strawberries had to be bloody well included’, as picking strawberries at our local farm is one of my favourite summer activities with the kids and they are definitely not the organic variety.

Interestingly, there is also the ‘clean 15’ which were found to have little to no traces of pesticides. This list includes onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi fruit, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes and sweet onions.

Growing Your Own

We are fairly lucky where I live and have managed to get a plot up at the local allotment for a nominal fee each year. Our main hurdle is how big it is which is a strange thing to complain about when most people in cities could only dream of one day coming off the waiting list and getting an allotment.

Up until now we have just played at growing our own but this year I am going to give it a more concerted effort as this seems to be the most obvious and economical way to switch to organic produce.

The only stumbling block is the amount of work we need to do just to get the allotment viable again after leaving it untouched for a year whilst Martin underwent treatment. I do love a challenge though and not only will there be a steady stream of organic fruit and veg filling my kitchen but the allotment will also be a wildlife haven… Well, I can dream can’t I?

 

My main reason for writing this post is that I can’t be alone in my struggles to switch to organic produce and the additional cost is just one of the many hurdles.

It would therefore be great to hear from others about how you have approached this issue and whether you have successfully moved to organic produce.

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7 thoughts on “The Organic Veg Conundrum”

  1. Good read and I’m feeling a little icky at the thought of the dirty dozen. Most of them feature regularly in our house. I had a very positive experience of organic veggie boxes! From a lovely place in Truro, you really did have a lot of say about what goes in the box. You could list definite no nos, add things you need every week and also include bread, milk, eggs, cheese and meat if you choose the full ‘menu’. I stopped it simply because I was moving house and needed to be flexible about how much I was cooking and I haven’t gotten around to ordering it again. I live in a village now and I’m trying to cut down on my carbon footprint too, so having a lovely delivery from them again has been on my mind. P.s. I love kale and even my 4 year old liked it – still shocked here! She described it as juicy!

    1. That veg box scheme actually sounds tempting. Can you PM or reply with the name of it? Unfortunately I think I am going to be a steadfast kale hater until the day I die – the word juicy and kale are two things that I never thought I would hear in the same sentence 🙃.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with a veg box scheme. I really should give it a go before writing it off as an option that would work for me.

      1. Hi I’ve only just seen your reply! Will pm you now 🙂 perhaps I should cook some of my special juicy kale for you!

  2. I loved this article, it really piqued my interest!

    I never subscribed to an organic food box. Not so much for “the element of surprise”, but because I feel that these kind of formats – organic or no – tend to stick you up with stuff that is cheapest to make it be profitable. Of course I’m not talking quality here but indeed, getting stuck only with veg that is in season. Like kale. I’m no kale hater but eating exactly according to the season would drive me completely nuts. I feel I want to make my own choices on the matter too! And I totally agree on how ridiculous it is that organic food in supermarkets is often wrapped in plastic.

    Besides growing my own (which was fun, but also required a good bit of space and attention) I haven’t found the formula for eating organic succesfully yet. We do have a great deal on our beef though; we buy it in bulk from a free-range (practically organic) initiative. It’s pre-packed quality stuff which you can keep in the freezer, and because you buy in bulk (and all the meat in the selection comes from the same cow) it isn’t that much more expensive, either. It caused us to eat less and better quality meat. Of course this isn’t much of an option if your vegan or vegetarian, but it sure works for us.

    1. Thanks for reading the post and for the interesting comments. I’m quite up for trying out the allotment properly but it does take loads of time. I like going up there when the kids are in bed though for a couple of hours in the summer.

      I’ve heard of a few good meat schemes. Definitely considering giving one them a go as my friend has raved about her meat box.

      Maybe with the plastic free movement there will soon be unpackaged organic veg in the supermarket at an ok price – I think this is probably the setup that would work best for me.

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