Guide to Britain's best veg boxes
Our guide looks at the benefits of organic veg boxes and some of the best organic delivery schemes around the UK.
Eating locally and seasonally is good for your health and the environment, and one of the best ways to do this is by ordering veg boxes.
Delivered straight to your door, fruit and vegetable boxes can be ordered in a range of sizes and varieties, making them suitable for any size household.
Our guide to veg boxes includes what they are, the benefits of ordering veg boxes and the best veg box schemes near you.
What is a veg box?
A veg box, or vegetable box, is a scheme that delivers local, seasonal and fresh fruit and vegetables to your doorstep or a local collection point. Usually the schemes involve a weekly order, but it is also possible to do one-off orders. A variety of box sizes and themes can be chosen, meaning you can tailor your order to the number and preferences of people in your household.
What are the environmental benefits of veg boxes?
There are many environmental benefits of veg boxes. The farms that deliver veg boxes are usually organic, meaning the release of harmful pesticides, herbicides and insecticides into the surrounding countryside is reduced.
The fruit and vegetables are seasonal and local. Eating seasonal food from nearby farms reduces the reliance on imported produce – the transportation of imports releases more carbon into the atmosphere than locally sourced food.
The fruit and vegetables are delivered loose in a cardboard box, using far less packaging compared to a supermarket, particularly plastics. The empty boxes are often picked up by the farm the following week as they deliver your next order.
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Quality control in supermarkets often means that a large percentage of picked crops are thrown away because of their shape and superficial blemishes. Veg boxes don't discriminate against wonky produce, meaning far less food waste.
The cumulative travel time from farm to plate is less. One driver delivering dozens of boxes covers less overall distance than dozens of drivers journeying to supermarkets. Veg boxes are often delivered at times of low congestion (typically the morning), meaning less stopping and starting, again reducing the amount of traffic pollution release into the atmosphere.
What are the health benefits of veg boxes?
Most veg boxes come from organic farms, where the fruit and vegetables are grown without chemicals.
Eating seasonal, local food means your fruit and vegetables are fresh, this gives them more flavour and a higher level of nutrients and vitamins than produce that has travelled a long distance.
By ordering veg boxes you are encourage to accept all foods, including ingredients that you wouldn't usually buy in the supermarket. As a result, you are more like to try new recipes and broaden your cooking horizon.
From a more holistic point of view, eating with the seasons allows us to stay in touch with the cycles of nature, increasing our connection to the land.
Best veg boxes
The Veg Box Company, Lancashire
This Lancashire based veg box scheme collects fresh vegetables and produce from local farms, including the company's own family farm which currently specialises in strawberries and iceberg lettuce. As well as seasonal vegetables, you can order your pantry essentials from The Veg Box - stock up on tea, coffee, flour and cereal. You'll also find tasty treats such as curry kits, cake mixes and cheeses.
There's the option to build your own box so you can pick your family favourites, and you can opt for a one off-order if you're keen to give the scheme a try before committing to a subscription.
Abel & Cole, England
Covering most of England, Abel & Cole seem to be on a mission to provide everything you might want from an organic delivery company, whether you're single or shopping for a big family. They offer a huge variety of boxes, including British Seasonal fruit and veg, Lunchbox Favourites, Tropical Fruit and Med Veg – plus a large variety of meat, fish and plant-based boxes. But they also have tinned essentials, sustainable homeware, luxuries such as chocolate, kimchi and Pastel de Nata from the bakery section; plus a zero-waste scheme offering plastic-free refills of essentials such as pasta, pulses and household cleaning products. as if that's not enough, they also collect your plastic bags and wraps along with the sustainable packaging each week.
Riverford Organic, Devon
Based at Wash Farm in Buckfastleigh, Devon, Riverford Organic is a cooperative of farms that delivers fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, wine and fruit across the country. The man behind the scheme, Guy Watson, was voted one of our top 20 British food heroes a few years back. Keep an eye on the website as box contents change weekly.
Keveral Farm, Cornwall
Residents in south-east Cornwall have been enjoying the locally grown organic fruit and veg from Keveral Farm since 1997. The farm itself has been organic since 1973 – almost 50 years of history and experience makes this a perfect starting point for newcomers to veg boxes.
East Coast Organics, Edinburgh
Growers at this 20-year-old farm boast not just organic produce but biodynamic produce, which means, among other things, that the entire farm relies on home-produced compost, manure and animal feeds, for even more nutritious fruit and veg. Delivering to customers in Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian, East Coast Organics also supply herbs, bread, cheese and eggs.
Boxfresh Organics, Hampshire
Through helping to plan crops and talk prices with growers, this company speaks to farmers in its collective on a daily basis, and covers the West Country right though to the North Midlands. Its recession-busting value organic box of is perfect for both the health and wealth conscious.
The Organic Pantry, North Yorkshire
Tending to England's northern counties, including Northumberland, Yorkshire and Derbyshire, this friendly, green-thinking farm has been going for over 100 years, and became fully certified as an organic farm in 1999. Start off with a weekly Farm Box (£12.50) and if you like what your getting you can always upgrade to a Large Vegetable Box (£24.85).
- Looking for inspiration in the kitchen? Read our list of the best vegetable gardening books to buy
One of the oldest Organic businesses in the UK, Sunnyfields delivers fruit and veg boxes, specialist herbs, dairy and also a great selection of meat and poultry. It is green thinking and flexible to suit individual customers, aiming to provide high quality produce throughout the year.
Milk & More
As well as offering a glass milk bottle drop off and pick up service - an excellent and easy way to reduce your household's plastic consumption - Milk & More deliver organic fruit and veg boxes. Check the website to see if they deliver to your area, and have fun exploring the many treats available. As well as the mixed boxes, you can have a kilogram of Isle of Wight heritage tomatoes delivered to your door. Perfect for a week of tasty salads, pizzas and sandwiches.
If you're sorted for vegetables - perhaps you grow your own, or you have a local farm shop you're keen to support - you can always go for a fruit only box. An easy way to keep your fruit bowl filled and thriving throughout the week whilst still avoiding the supermarket. The Veg Box Company offers a box filled with bananas, apples, pears, plums, satsumas and grapes. Ideal for lunch boxes and healthy post work snacking, Or why not treat a busy friend to a fruit box and give them one less thing to think about?
- For recipe ideas, read our beginner's guide to fermented food and try out our zero waste veggie stock recipe
Liz has been with 220 since 2007. In that time she’s reported live from almost every major tri across the globe, including the Ironman Worlds, 70.3 Worlds, ITU Worlds, Challenge Roth, the 2014 Commonwealths, the London Olympics and the Rio Paralympics, to name but a few. Unsurprisingly, she’s our go-to pro-athlete expert on the team. When not covering races, you’ll find her whipping words into finely-crafted shape for both the mag and website.
Rachel Howatson is a digital writer who works across a range of Our Media’s special interest brands. Whatever your passion, whether it’s hillwalking, cooking, gardening, running, socialising or even sleeping, she'll likely have written about it.
Tanya Jackson is a digital editor and writer for countryfile.com. She lives in Wiltshire and loves campfire cooking, swimming in the sea, rural folklore, barn owls and walking her Welsh collie in the misty hills. Tanya also has a passion for English food and drink – although nothing tastes as good as tomato soup out of a thermos on a crisp woodland walk.
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