I’m just revisiting some old posts on the blog, for nostalgic kicks. This one was the first post I ever wrote with actual content, after the intro post when I started the blog. The bit about my son yelling “banannnnash!” has made me laugh, as he tells us off now if we add “sh” to the ends of words as he used to say them – “it’s eggies, mummy, not eggiesh!”
We stopped going to the village greengrocer for absolutely ages during lock down (I say “village” – I mean, not-quite-gentrified-yet high street in zone three). It’s a very small shop and it remained quite well stocked throughout the panic-buying stage, as far as we could tell from the local grapevine, so had huge queues for a good few weeks. Then we felt like we couldn’t go in there with the pushchair, due to the risk of things being touched/licked by the small one. And I honestly missed it so much, our almost daily little trips out to buy brocoli and bananas and cabbage. And chat to another grown-up for five minutes.
So we did supermarket online click and collect shopping for a while, including fruit and vegetables, but the plastic just depressed me, and my husband refused to partake in any further ecobrick-related activities. So we got ourselves sorted out with a veg box. The first one we bought was super expensive, from a New Covent Garden supplier who in normal times supplies restaurants. And it wasn’t organic or plastic-free. So I switched to Abel and Cole and I have to say I’m pretty impressed so far. Their Twitter help person is amazing and has been super-responsive to all my newbie queries. Their packaging is almost entirely plastic-free – either small cardboard punnets which can go in the recycling, or compostable “non-plastic” bags, or the bigger cardboard boxes can be returned via the delivery driver for reuse. The fruit and veg is all organic and tastes amazing. The scheme is flexible so you can swap different boxes for different weeks and skip weeks if you want to, and add top-up produce. It’s varied so you have to be prepared to learn how to cook new stuff – beetroot and squash surprise, anyone? And while it’s not all local/British produce, everything is shipped on water rather than transported by air, which does reduce the carbon footprint considerably (their all-British veg box is unavailable at the moment). Honestly I’m not sure I’m brave enough right now to just eat local, which I guess involves a lot of turnips and swede, but maybe this is something to aim towards.
BUT, it’s undeniably more expensive than Asda. Going plastic-free is a privilege and going organic is a luxury. I’ve written about this before, here. I just cashed up the latest Abel and Cole veg box contents vs. what it would cost in Asda, and it is twice the price. Maybe the same produce would be equivalent price, or cheaper, at a local market, but that in itself requires the relative privilege of being able to food shop during the day on a weekday (i.e. not having to be at work, not having to drag multiple children around with you, not being scared of going outside in the current context of lock down being eased but people behaving like Covid never happened).
We are back in the habit of going to the local greengrocer now more regularly, since the team there protested to me how much they missed seeing the small one (did I mention how cute and funny he is?) So maybe we will scale back slightly on the deliveries, but either way we are accepting paying a plastic-free premium for what we believe is the right course of action, and cutting down our spends elsewhere to accommodate that.
I’m wondering, as usual, what else we can do? I feel like I want to revisit all the protests and letter campaigns to supermarkets that grew out of the outrage generated from the War on Plastic program which aired this time last year. Did it make any difference? What else can be done? Does anyone care anymore? The state of Bournemouth beach this week suggests that a LOT of people don’t care. More of that in a few days.
Meanwhile, tell me about your fruit and vegetable habits in the comments. And your favourite way to cook rainbow chard…