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How a fruit and veg supplier won my heart

I am a reluctant online shopper. I enjoy the actual shopping experience – choosing goods there and then and getting them immediately without expected delivery time.

22nd July 2019

Still a few months ago I started looking for a way to reduce time I’d spend on doing my groceries and beat pangs of conscience when binning all that non-recyclable foil.

The foil spinach and salad leaves are packaged in is not recyclable. I don’t know where it ends up in reality but I imagine once it is tossed it just lies somewhere out there like all the trash in ‘Wall-E’.

You may have seen ads from fruit and veg suppliers. Waiting on the tube platform I once saw an ad from Riverford clearly inspired by Trainspotting. Food organically grown and locally made is better. Seasonal local foods are better for human health and for the planet. It’s easier and cheaper to grown and transport them. Simple truths we hear all the time.

I ordered my first box. Riverford assign clients to local farms and weekly delivery day will depend on location. They are happy to drop the box at the doorstep if nobody’s in. Delivery day in my area is Wednesday. The service is not instant, orders with any final changes must be placed 48 hours before delivery day. That requires certain self-discipline and planning in opposition to present day ‘stream on demand’ expectations.

The following Wednesday the box arrived. The vegetables were excellent. Packed mostly in grey paper bags, small, imperfect and really tasty. There were a bag of potatoes, some onions, a few carrots, broccoli, little gem lettuce, some cherry tomatoes. Each box usually has a good mix of plump roots, shiny greens and something a bit more juicy.

Over time not all were my favourites. Early spring is not great when it comes to seasonal treats. For a while I’d get a lot of spring greens. I’m not much into cabbage. Spring greens don’t even have any decent equivalent name in my first language and I’d describe them as some unknown cabbage-like objects, possibly inedible. Sorry, spring greens. I am happy to redistribute leeks as well.

Riverford promise to never buy products transported with air freight. They want to fully power their farms with renewable energy and drop non-sustainable packaging. The box is requested back so that the supplier can reuse it many times. All that effort for one simple purpose – deliver food. Sounds like a business I am genuinely happy to support.

How often do we hear about the future of food? How long can we expect avocados without being avocado-shamed? Can we fight climate change without changing how we get food? Where is the balance between transporting exotic foods and making the best use of whatever is available nearby? How can we change our habits in order to lower the harmful impact of our diet alone on environment? Services like those from Riverford can surely educate us on sane eating habits so that the rest of industry can catch up.

And now the real reason how Riverford won my heart. Days after the first box arrived I got another email saying: Thank you for your payment. The following morning box number 2 landed on my doorstep. Apparently with one order I enabled a chain of regular deliveries. I never cancelled.

Agata Brok, Developer at GEOLYTIX

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