It was during a routine stroll through Exeter last month that I found myself in the colorful Riverford Organics marque, signing up to receive one their weekly subscription boxes. The weekly shop isn’t exactly fun when you’ve got several hungry mouths to feed; so the promise of hand-selected meat & vegetables delivered straight to my door was too good an opportunity to pass by…
Prices started from as low as £4.95, for a small fruit bag, through to £56.20 for a weekly mixed fruit & veg box, containing 8 varieties of vegetable, 3 fruit and 4 cuts of meat. Needless to say, I was keen to give Riverford a go!
Why Give Riverford Boxes A Try?
The surprise of opening a box of fresh ingredients each week and having the family try out new recipes together is incredibly fun. Equally, I feel that it’s important to do my bit for local producers and in turn reduce my carbon footprint. Even if I continue to shop at the supermarket for some produce and buy the odd box or two from a local producer, the knock-on effect for the local economy and environment could only be a positive thing. With a constant tidal wave of unnecessary plastics proving to be a problem throughout the world, I like to have the option to receive my weekly shop in a cardboard box or brown paper bag. It’s out with unnecessary polystyrene and plastics and in with recyclable and reusable packaging. Lastly, when you opt for a subscription box such as this, you find yourself consuming a lot more fruit and vegetables in every meal, because you have an added incentive to use up every morsel.
What’s in the Riverford Boxes?
Over the two weeks that I tried out the Riverford vegetable box I received a really nice range of produce, including: new potatoes, onions, carrots (still protected in earth) cabbages, cucumber, a bag of basil, cherries, peaches, bananas, grapes, tomatoes, sweetcorn, fennel, kohlrabi, broad beans and peas in their pods….
The meat selection was also incredibly varied and over two weeks I received: A whole chicken, chicken pieces/chicken breast, minced beef, a pack of bacon, a lamb joint, quick fry steaks and beef skirt.
I was pleased to find that Riverford keeps its food fresh whilst in transit by using eco-friendly and recyclable materials such as wool, together with reusable ice-packs. Likewise, all of the packaging can be handed back to Riverford to be used again next time!
Thoughts on the Food
On the first night I roasted the whole chicken and found it to be moist and flavoursome. The only comment I would make is that it was a tad difficult to carve – however this may have had more to do with my cooking skills, or lack of! We served the chicken with buttered fennel, fresh peas and new potatoes, which were extremely creamy and buttery when cooked. I’ve heard people say on many occasions that if you only swap one ingredient to organic then it should be your potatoes, as the amount of chemicals often used in the growing process can hinder the taste. Having tried Riverford’s organic potatoes, I can now safely say that’s probably true!
Another meal I created with my first week’s ingredients was a lamb joint with carrots, potatoes and broad beans. Again, the vegetables were all very tasty – as was the lamb – but there was a little too much gristle on the joint, which was a shame.
I also made my own take on Riverfords Kohlrabi and Fennel Salad (which you can find in their recipe book). I mixed together carrots, fennel, kohlrabi and some pomegranate seeds that were left over in the fridge. I then added some salt, pepper, lemon and pomegranate juice and stirred it all together. This was delicious and stayed fresh for up to 48 hours.
I have to say, I did actually taste the different between Riverford’s organic produce and the fruit & veg that I usually buy from the local supermarket. The cucumbers in particular were full of flavour and couldn’t have been further apart from their supermarket counterparts. The potatoes were fantastic and if i’m being honest, the quality of all of the produce was overall very high. You also have the option to amend your box two days before delivery, which is a really good idea if you’ve still got a full pantry from last time!
The only minor gripe I had with the whole service was that you have to be careful not to get stuck in an on-going subscription that you may not want to keep up with. If you sign-up with the intention of trialling the boxes, you must remember to cancel future deliveries and payment – else you’ll be forking out £50 + a week on veg boxes.
Overall, I was impressed with the produce that we received and I would recommend that you give Riverford (or one of these other local suppliers) a try. If we all occasionally swapped our supermarket shop to a subscription box then I sincerely believe that we would help strengthen our local communities and eat healthier as a consequence.
*This is not a sponsored post. We paid for all of our Riverford boxes in order to give the best possible feedback.