UK Organic Box Delivery vs. Grocery Store Delivery

How many of you have tried an organic box delivery? What’s your perception? Here in the UK, they are marketed as a bit of a luxury and in the USA, people who use CSA vegetable share schemes are usually seen as hippies or tree-huggers. If you’ve never seen one before-they consist of a variety of vegetables, or fruit and vegetables, often from local farms utilising what is in season at the time. Each scheme is slightly different, but most will let you regulate or substitute items that you don’t like or will not eat. You can also add other things, bread, milk, eggs and more in the case of Abel and Cole and Riverford…much much more! I have always thought my weekly box delivery to be something of a luxury so  I have to say that I was quite surprised by the results of my research.  Here’s to debunking the myths! Please read on.

Last year we moved to Birmingham from London. We wanted a bit of a change of pace, and to get out from under London’s crippling rent and travel costs, not to mention the time we spent on public transport! One of the things I’d never thought about before the move was my organic box delivery that I’d been receiving for 2 years. I was with a company called Riverford…whom I LOVED. I’d had a couple of different driver/franchise owners whilst in London and both were brilliant. The North London one in particular. My veg was always perfectly put together and the medium box was an excellent value.

When I moved to Birmingham I was able to stay with Riverford, but the quantity and quality seemed vastly reduced. At this point I switched to Abel and Cole whom I’d had for several months when living on a Dutch barge in central London. The medium box didn’t seem to be as carefully prepared or have nearly the variety. But I’ve since switched to the large box I’ve been very happy indeed, with the exception of the driver coming at 6am and having to leave the box on my doorstep. That I don’t mind, it’s the neighbourhood cats that like to “claim” the veg as their own! Eww. Anyway, I digress. Let’s get comparing!


My Recent Abel and Cole Large Box Contents

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Leeks
  • Milva New Potatoes
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Red Oak Leaf Lettuce this is ony my dislike list so they exchanged it for onions
  • Red Pepper
  • Savoy Cabbage this is on my dislike list so they exchanged it for Chicory
  • LargeTomatoes
  • Turnips

£18.50 + £1 delivery= £19.50


Sainsbury’s

  • turnips: 1
  • endive/chicory: 2.40
  • Carrots:  1.15
  • potatoes 1.75
  • portabello mushrooms 1.50
  • onions 1
  • red pepper .80
  • tenderstream broccoli 2
  • squash 1.80
  • leeks: 2
  • tomatoes  1.80
  • cucumber: 1.25

18.45 + 5.95 delivery= £24.35/ (£40 min required for delivery) 6 items not organic


Ocado

  • turnips: 1.15
  • chicory: 3.00
  • carrots: 1.69
  • potatoes: 2.99
  • portabello mushroom: 2.19
  • squash: 1.99
  • red pepper: 2
  • onions:  1
  • tenderstem broccoli:  1.99
  • leeks: 2.35
  • tomatoes: 1.80
  • cucumber: 1.38

£23.53 / +  6.99 delivery /total: £30.52/ £40 min delivery  (2 items not organic)
This is the time to mention that Ocado do their own organic box which I’ve purchased a few times. You get a LOT of produce. But for me the flavour just isn’t there. It’s the reason why I rarely buy produce and fruit from Ocado. It looks nice, but there’s something lacking.


Waitrose

  • turnips: 1.99
  • chicory: 1.50
  • carrots: 1.69
  • potatoes: 1.69
  • portabello mushroom: 1.59
  • squash: 1.99
  • red pepper: 1.5
  • onions:  1.07
  • tenderstem broccoli:  1.99
  • leeks: 4.99
  • tomatoes: 2.29
  • cucumber: 1.38

21.98 +(free delivery over £50) = £21.98/ (£50 min required for delivery) (4 items not organic)


Tescos and Asda do not carry enough organic produce in order to do a comparison but I feel quite sure that  they’d not be cheaper.

As for other box schemes that I’ve tried, there’s also Farm Fresh Organics. Whilst I loved the produce…I found the website rather difficult to use (in MAJOR need of a redesign) and almost no communication once I had ordered. I have a feeling if the website were sorted and there was more of an online presence and communication about them that they could get a lot more business here in the West Midlands. I’d love to see that happen and would be the first in line to order on a regular basis!
So there you go! Sainsbury’s came in under cost for the actual produce but went over with the delivery charge and a whopping 6 items were not organic. Again I was genuinely surprised by my findings! I always thought that my organic box was something that I splurged for each week because tasty organic fruits and veggies were something on which I wasn’t willing to compromise. Well, here’s to not compromising and getting the best for less! Please support local farms, and companies that make box deliveries like this possible!

I’d love to hear from all of you. Do you have an experience with organic box deliveries? What do you think of them? What made you consider an organic box delivery?

Many thanks to Sarah Braun for the lovely photo at the top of this posting. It is licensed though creative commons. Please click on the photo for more from her on her flickr page!

 

 


10 comments to “UK Organic Box Delivery vs. Grocery Store Delivery”

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  1. Are you comparing items of the same quantity?

  2. Hi Michael,

    Yes, I tried to make sure that it was exactly the same amount, but in some cases (such as chicory or portabello mushrooms) there were 3 in a pack rather than the 4 I got in the veg box. 🙂

  3. Jan Letchford says: -#1

    Hi, I have never received a veg box or ordered delivery to the door from the supermarket. Differeing reasons for both. We grow our own veg and that tastes even better than any market stall, or supermarket I have ever been to. We eat seasonally and enjoy getting muddy veg (not that clean, looks like it’s never been in the soil stuff from supermarkets). We are lucky we have space and time to grow our own (that’s about to change but I digress). We do buy some bits from a local market, organic water cress, mushrooms (never had luck growing them) and some potatoes but in general try to manage. Our chillies and Winter squashes are the specials at present.
    Deliveries from supermarkets worry me because I am fussy and do not want any old veg I look at it feel it check it for mouldy bits, bruises etc and worry that someone picking my food from a supermarket may not have the same requirements I have when choosing.
    Not sure on the economics of growing your own it’s way cheaper in some aspects but time consuming so costly in time.
    But the fun of it is the best bit, I never tire of watching seed grow into plants.
    Go on have a go it’s worth it.
    As I say we are moving shortly and will not have access to veg growing space and may be it will then be time to try a veg box. Thanks for the comparison.

  4. Hi Jan!

    Yes, I grew up on a farm and we always had tonnes of fresh fruit and veg! It’s much nice to grow it if you can, but for those who do not have the room, time, or inclination…a veg box is a great alternative. Grocery stores seem quite careful these days when picking fruit and veg for deliveries. Still there are some things I would never order (and kinds of berries for example!) Thanks so much for your comments and we’re very excited for you all and the big move! Hope to see you all very soon! x

  5. That’s awesome. I also found that with a veg box we end up wasting a lot less food and doing far fewer extra shops – we choose recipes based on what we are given rather than thinking of something, popping out to buy a few extra ingredients and never quite finishing what’s in the fridge. I’m pretty sure we save another £20 a week that way (certainly when you include a chicken a week with the box that gives us 3 or 4 meals…

  6. Hi Ben! Yes, that’s a great point. I find the veg lasts a lot longer too, from what I get at the grocery store. We waste very little as well and do less shops! Thanks so much for your comment! Hope you all are well! 😀

  7. I used Abel and Cole for a while but, while I liked the overall flexibility of their website, found their mixed fruit and veg box a bit expensive and sometimes a bit short on things I needed. I started using a local scheme in East Oxford (http://www.veginclover.co.uk): £12 gets a weekly dose of potatoes, carrots and onions with 3-5 other things on top.

    One of the significant savings comes from cutting down shopping trips and thus having less of those “oh, and lets try some of that” moments that add to the bill.

  8. Wow Wulf! That’s quite a deal! It helps to find out about more and more companies out there that offer box schemes! I think I’m inspired to start a page listing the ones that have been recommended by others. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  9. david seddon says: -#1

    no doubt – for me grow your own is best for many reasons; next best is local produce from boxes outside houses, then local shops in nearest town – mine is Harleston in Waveney Valley, Norfolk. Careful planning for multiple purpose journeys reduces mileage and is cheaper than paying for delivery for veg boxes. But you need the time…

  10. Thanks for your comment David! I agree, if you can grow your own it trumps all!

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American born Lobelia isn’t just your typical singer-songwriter. A multi-instrumentalist who worked as a studio musician for 10+ years, she has won multiple awards for her songwriting, has been featured in Billboard Magazine, and was one of the original Women of MP3.COM in the early days of the Internet. Now living in the UK after a 7 year stint in Montreal, she hosts several acclaimed songwriter nights at Tower of Song, Birmingham’s best small music venue. An advocate for sustainable touring, she travels the world performing at house concerts and small venues.