Foods that are bad for us to eat, how we should be more ethically aware as consumers and cooks and told to consider sustainability – it seems that not a day goes by when this message comes across in the media (in the UK at least). Look online and you can now find a plethora of online retailers, farmers and retail agents willing to answer our calling of ‘to the door’ fresh, organic and ethically desirable food services.
Who can deny eye catching headlines and debate over big supermarkets claims to serve their customers, which is open to much debate whether they are more interested in their bottom line, than sustainability and certain ethics (food waste). High Street and smaller, independent food retailers do seem better at promoting these core issues at the heart of their businesses. These days this is a USP (unique selling point) over their bigger rivals.
Personally, I have needed to find different ways to shop – away from the convenience of shopping for everything under the one roof, in favour of more natural ingredients, thinking organically and how to shop where sustainability is high on the agenda.
Award winning Riverford Organic Farms appeared on my radar. I was drawn by their core message of delivering and where possible, growing organic AND ethical produce. Their website is like that perfectly dressed window of a large department store. You are drawn in and purchase. As consumers, we do after all purchase with our eyes and heart, or in this case with our stomachs.
Registering for an account is simple. In the process, it sets up an agreement for payment (no tie-ins) through Worldpay and they hold your card details, securely. This give you the advantage of placing and changes orders online, without the need to constantly checkout or re-enter card details.
My trial delivery contained a box of fruit, box of veg, free-range eggs, butter, cheese and bread. In effect, it is like doing your weekly shop online, with the added bonus of all produce being organic. Unlike so many other websites, where products never quite live up to their flashy website or marketing spiel. Riverford really does deliver on its promises. Their website has an easy to navigate, fresh feel with simple ordering and helpful information, such as suggested produce and recipes.
You are able to see exactly what will be in the week’s box of fruit and veg online or via an email reminder. It also tells you which country the ingredients are sourced from, with a nice balance of UK and overseas. If you are concerned about transportation, they write on their site that they never use air-freight. You always have the ability to change orders within 48 hours of delivery. One-off or regular orders can be created, including items like meat, dairy, deli and cupboard ingredients, all as you would expect are organic. For once, the consumer has choice and they have embraced this fact. Clearly every detail has been well thought out and the company’s popularity is well founded. The food is delivered in collapsible, recycled material boxes, which are collected by the local delivery team and re-used up to 10 times. I saw no plastic and loose fruit and vegetables are in recycled, cardboard cartons, to prevent damage in transit from the farms.
Deliveries are made by local teams. The husband and wife team that deliver to me, here in West London are only 12 miles away (not bad for London) – which is not much more than a visit to one of the larger hypermarkets or cash and carry, in terms of petrol and effect on the environment, so tick to environmentally friendly.
Additional, simple touches at Riverford includes a welcome pack; an A-Z guide to vegetables. Bi-monthly recipe booklet accompanies what’s included in the boxes and inspiration for cooking with them. They have thought about our best intentions and help us to use all the ingredients, before they go off as we have run out of ideas. They are clearly thinking about minimal food wastage, which is very commendable.
If time is a factor, never worry as Riverford have really thought of everything. A new addition to their services is organic recipe boxes. Ingredients portioned out with accompanying recipe cards, with options for the number of meals and for couples or small families.
Other strings to Riverford’s bow is their Buckfastleigh (Devon) farm restaurant and the UK’s first and only, certified organic pub; the Duke of Cambridge in Islington, north London. They also operate an open-door policy and invite people to visit the farm and see where the produce is grown that they receive. They are not a faceless, online only entity.
Knowing that Riverford has a number of regional farms to source their own produce is music to my ears. Produce straight from the farm and bypassing third-parties and supermarkets is very important to me. Their box [delivery] scheme was created by Guy Watson on Wash Farm in Devon with local vegetables delivered to 30 friends around Devon. The first regional farm was outside of Devon on Sacrewell Farm in Peterborough, followed by Riverford on Home Farm in Yorkshire and then Riverford on Upper Norton Farm in Hampshire. They now deliver around 47,000 boxes weekly to homes across the UK from their regional farms.
Increasing food mountains of waste, in part due to supermarkets policing what ‘cosmetically’ appears to consumers on their shelves, as highlighted on BBC One’s Hugh’s war on waste with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The general appetite of shoppers is changing and thanks to companies like Riverford that put natural produce at the heart of what they do, can only make it a stronger company.
Should I be excited about my next box of fruit, vegetables and other goodies? Well, yes, I am actually and it is encouraging me to cook with a more varied range of products and achieve a more balanced diet. What could be simpler or healthier?
Check out Riverford organic farms for yourself at www.riverford.co.uk. Telephone: 01803 227227 – 7 days a week.
- Observer Ethical Awards 2015 – Ethical Product of the Decade
- Observer Ethical Awards 2014 – Retailer of the Year
- Soil Association Organic Food Awards 2013
All my reviews on this site are impartial. I am not paid or receive any incentives to place reviews.
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