Options for purchasing fresh produce have steadily increased over the last few years, although in some ways (if your of an age to remember) we are coming a full circle from the days when the ‘veggie man’ come past once a week with his truck load of goodies.
In many countries including France and Italy this is still a weekly or more frequent occurrence. Growing up on an orchard in Victoria I remember my mother with her never-changing list, carrots, potatoes, onions, perhaps a cauliflower or beans, lettuce in the summer of course and our obligatory apples when in season.
Then we ran headlong into the 80s and 90s, a house wifes’ dream was created, the supermarket, the one stop shop where you could get all your household needs in the one place. Cost effective, clean, sterile, packed for you and carried to your car. Now it seems very odd to me that whilst living on the land, surrounded by farms, the efficiency of the supermarket was considered the best way to buy produce. However farmers, orchardists and their wives had such busy lives that unless you enjoyed gardening, a veggie patch was considered too much additional work when other options existed. I’m sure Mum thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to dress up and travel in to town once a week, catch up with friends, have a cup of tea at the local cafe and just wander around the shops.
Thankfully today, whilst supermarkets still serve a purpose and for many the only viable option. We are seeing more and more farmers markets, farm gate sales and farmers direct options.
Personally I enjoy meandering around the farmers markets and look forward my local markets. I like to see what is in season and decide what I might create in the coming week or so. Noticing the ever-expanding offer of home delivered produce I have from time to time considered this option. A great choice if you have limited time, perhaps you don’t particularly enjoy making decisions on what to buy, or just for the convenience of having delivered to your door.
The options vary, there are the sellers who give you the option of chosing the veg and fruit you need this week, some are resellers who purchase from a wholesale market offering more variety and produce from around Australia not just local. Then there is the farmer or in some cases, a few farmers join together to increase the variety of veg on offer. You may have organic choices. The contents will be whatever is in seasons and available that week.
This past week I decided to investigate a little further and after coming across a web site, Whole Larder Love reading the blog and background I decided to splash out and purchase a box of veggies. I enjoy the philosophy behind this lifestyle choice, so much resonated with my own thoughts on food miles, dreams of sustainability and eating by the seasons. They have specific drop off points around Melbourne, so no postage involved but no convenience of home delivery, my trusty shopping trolley and I set off to pick up the goodies from the nearest collection point early on Saturday morning.
The veggies are organic, although this isn’t a major concern for me. Grown in Daylesford. I was very pleasantly surprised, the produce so fresh, obviously just harvested, I think I had an extra supply of dirt to be honest – nothing a wash want fix. I can dream of what it might be like if I had my own veggie patch.
This week I received: potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli (only one head), cabbage, carrots, beetroot, onions, zucchini, celery, apples, daikon and two end of season tomatoes. Such amazing variety, I breathed a sigh of relief I’m always a little worried when buying a set box that I will receive 16 heads of broccoli and little else, whilst for some folk this would be great, not for me.
I had no idea what a daikon was, (pictured above) one of the benefits of collecting my veg from Rohan directly was I could ask and he was able to offer a few serving suggestions. In case you are also a little vague it is a winter radish, I love radishes and look forward to adding this to my coleslaw.
Such a terrific selection that will keep me going for a few weeks and I have no doubts due to the freshness there is not issue of the produce going off before I have a chance to use it up.
I included eggs in my order from a farm of 8 chickens per hectare. Australian standards for free range are 1500 and non free range is up to 10,000. This freedom and space absolutely comes through in the flavour of the eggs.
My menu this week will include: coleslaw, zucchini fritters, crumbed cauliflower and soup, pasta with broccoli and pine nuts.
Due to the quality I definately will purchase from this provider again, although there is probably only one more delivery before winter, when they let the land rest before spring, summer, autum comes around again.
I will continue to visit my farmers markets however as I enjoy the experience, having a chat and exchanging recipes and ideas.
Whatever your choice of purchase is there are a couple of questions to consider, there is no right or wrong answer by the way.
- Are low food miles a priority for me?
- Is organic important to me?
- Is the provider a farmer or reseller?
- What are the resellers thoughts on sustainability and supporting Australian growers?
- Am I ok to take pot luck or do I like to decide specifically what is on my menu this week?
Whatever you preferred way to buy your produce, enjoy, eat with the seasons and think of the miles your produce has travelled. I guarantee the flavour will be so much better.
I’m off to juice carrots and apple to keep my appetite in check whilst I prepare dinner. Lamb sausages, fried onions and coleslaw!