I love my veg box and it was a pleasure to be a guest blogger here for Heart Gallery.
A month or so before life here in the UK shifted on its axis, my partner and I moved out of town into a lovely little village close by. Now, as well as feeling incredibly fortunate in these days of ‘stay home’ to be living somewhere so beautiful, immersed in nature and with a multitude of wonderful new walks to explore on my doorstep, I am also enormously grateful to our local food growers and suppliers, who are working staggeringly hard to make eating a continuing delight, even in these troubled times.
As we’re now living some distance from shops, we’d already decided to sign up for weekly fruit and veg box deliveries from our local worker’s co-op, Valley Organics, and are very thankful they were able to squeeze our new order in despite their rapidly increasing demand! We’ve received two boxes so far and each one has been an absolute joy to unpack.
At a time where life has slowed down and we can see more clearly what’s important to us, I find I’m particularly enjoying these lovely veg boxes because:
Supporting local businesses:
I love shopping in both of Valley Organics’ shops in Hebden Bridge and am grateful I can trust them to have already done the hard work of sourcing items aligned with my values. So, I especially want them to survive this difficult time for businesses and supporting them in any way I can is really important to me. In turn, they also support our local organic farming community and other co-ops, like The Bakehouse, all of whom I want to continue thriving for a long time to come. The Coronavirus has shown how precarious an international system of supplies can be. Shopping locally offers us more flexibility and security.
I’m especially loving that we’re receiving fresh produce that I wouldn’t necessarily think to buy otherwise. It’s encouraging us to get creative with new recipes. Our vegan Butternut Squash, Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry has been a particular success so far and I’ve included the recipe below, if you fancy giving it a try too.
The changing selection of items in the boxes also means we’re eating a wider range of foods and so are including a greater variety of nutrition in our diets, which can only be a good thing in these days where health and immunity are at the forefront of concerns. We’re also eating more locally grown, in-season produce. In Ayurvedic medicine eating with the seasons is actually recommended for good health, which is obviously something we’re all trying to bolster at the moment.
As much of the produce is local, it hasn’t been stored as long and shipped as far as may be necessary with larger supermarket logistics. The veg box food is lots of fresher and simply tastes more vibrant and wonderful!
Reduced carbon footprint:
The reduced need for carbon-intensive storage and shipping, the lack of packaging on the food, as well as the fact that Valley Organics delivers in their electric van means that the environmental impact of my food has been significantly reduced, compared to imported supermarket goods wrapped in lots of unnecessary plastic.
Peace of mind:
Just knowing that we have fresh, nutritious food regularly being delivered to our doorstep right now, when going out to the shops is a bit of a worry, has done so much to ease some of the stress we’re all experiencing during these rather odd times. And is something I am enormously grateful for!
A little Note on Foraging
Valley Organics are also great at providing interesting information in their weekly veg box newsletters and have recently been mentioning foraging wild seasonal produce to supplement the larder too. We tried adding a handful of wild garlic (or ramsons) leaves to a tray of roast potatoes and vegetables and loved the subtle flavour they added. There are so many recipe ideas for how to use these leaves out there online. Nettles and dandelions are both in season right now too.
Another fantastic local source of information on foraging is available from Live Wild, our local Bushcraft and Forest School organisation. Wonderfully, Sophie from Live Wild has been publishing a series of short videos on YouTube, entitled Daily Nature-Connection / Foraging Ideas During COVID-19 ‘Lockdown’. The videos are so informative and can be found here under Sophie’s account, SophieWrenLiveWild.
And finally here’s that recipe I mentioned earlier…
Butternut Squash, Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry (vegan)
- 600g butternut squash, cut into cubes
- 400g – 600g of cauliflower pieces
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
- ½ red chilli, finely chopped (keep the seeds in for more heat)
- A handful of frozen peas
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp paprika
- 400g tin of plum tomatoes
- 400g tin of chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 400g tin of coconut milk
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp marmite
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / gas mark 6.
- Coat the butternut squash pieces and cauliflower pieces in a little oil so they don’t stick or burn. Add to a baking tray and cook for 12-15 minutes or until soft.
- Add 2 tbsp of oil to a hot saucepan. Add the chopped red onion and fry for a few minutes, until it becomes soft and brownish.
- Add the ginger, garlic and red chilli. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes, keep stirring.
- Next, add the curry powder, cumin, coriander and paprika. Cook for at least 10 minutes, keep stirring. This lets the heat open up spices and it’s at this stage that we get our yummy curry favours. Cook for longer if you like, just make sure it doesn’t burn. If it gets too dry just add a little bit of juice from the tinned tomatoes.
- After the spices are cooked add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, tomato paste, marmite and salt. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid any sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Finally, add the butternut squash, cauliflower and peas. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Take the cover off the pan if you would like to thicken the consistency of the curry. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with rice. Add chopped fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley to top off the dish if you like. Enjoy!
This dish keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and the flavours just keep improving with time. It also freezes well if you fancy batch cooking extra portions.
Take care, stay home and stay safe everyone.