Is being boxed up the most eco answer?

There’s something nice about getting a special delivery. Even something as mundane as the weekly groceries can be made a bit more exciting – especially if you don’t what’s on its way.
So when the organic suppliers Abel & Cole offered to drop off a week’s worth of tasties in return for me cooking them up and blogging about it – seemed too good an offer to miss.
Checking out the contents (totals listed below are for their standard mixed box) I found a good selection of seasonal veg including some lovely, muddy parsnips, cabbage and of course some Christmassy clementines.
So what to make? Well I could have created enough soups for the week or just accompanied meals but I wanted to make the vegetables the focal point of a meal.
I turned to Linda McCartney’s cookbook for inspiration and finished up adapting slightly the creamy potato and leek bake.

There is some feel good factor about getting all your veg organic and the accompanying roast parsnips from this box were the sweetest and tenderest I’ve tasted since I grew some myself.
But I wonder whether this scheme would make my regular shop anymore environmentally friendly? I normally buy fruit and veg from a shop half a mile from my home which I walk to. They don’t often supply anything organic but most of the seasonal produce is from Cheshire or Lancashire so there wouldn’t be many transport miles involved, it’s largely unpackaged plus I get the exercise of fetching and carrying it!
Abel & Cole doesn’t say where the produce originates – it could be down my road or it could be Kent for all I know. On the website they explain why they don’t provide that level of information saying;
“We often purchase the same item from several growers in a particular week. It enables us to take smaller harvests and to give you a more reliable supply. We may also bring in supplies from different growers at the last minute, dependent on the weather, crop problems or increased demand from customers. For this reason, it’s difficult for us to give full details of where each item in your box comes from. ”
This means it’s hard for me to compare the two experiences on possible transport impact but on a wider environmental point, having it delivered provided at least one driver with a job.
If we go down to a value comparison, pricewise, I would end up with more produce for the £15 but obviously we’re not comparing like-for-like being non-organic.

So how can anyone properly equate the options? Is transportation less environmentally harmful than pesticides? Jobs more important than a local shop? Questions are easy to come up with – answers less so. I’d love to hear how you juggle these issues
Here’s what came in the organic mixed box (£15.95):
3×2 types of apple.
5 Fairtrade bananas.
9 carrots.
8 clementines.
2 leeks.
250g mushrooms.
8 parsnips.
1.2kg potatoes.
1 small cabbage.
8 white onions.


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