Organic fruit & veggie delivery in London
February 9, 2006 4:05 AM   Subscribe

I can't always make it to my local farmers' market, and I'd love to arrange regular weekly deliveries of organic fruits and vegetables. I'm in London (NW3). Google turns up a ton of possibilities but I'd prefer personal recommendations. Any suggestions? If anybody has suggestions for delivery of organic meat, eggs, or dairy products, in addition to fruit and veg, I'd be interested in those, too.
posted by yankeefog to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
There was an article in last week's Guardian about a woman that went on some insane cancer-preventing diet and had to eat all organic fruit and veg and had a firm delivering it to her daily.

If my housemates didn't throw it out, I'll look it up for you tonight when I get home.
posted by k8t at 4:09 AM on February 9, 2006

I use Riverford. They offer a selection of veg & fruit boxes as well as other products, though not meat. I get the impression they work on some sort of network franchise system with lots of different farms around the country (covers most of the South of England) responsible for deliveries in their area. The people who deliver in my area are always on time and are really lovely. The food is good and the selection changes to reflect seasonal availability and locally available products (which can sometimes mean you don't get exactly what it says on the list for a particular week/box size). They were recommended to me by friends and I know a number of people locally who use them and are pleased with the service.

They give high figures for percentages of local sourcing which I am a bit dubious about as they also say on the weekly sheet where stuff comes from and lots of it isn't UK.

They start a service in your area from March 14th.
posted by biffa at 4:20 AM on February 9, 2006

Neighbours of mine get a weekly delivery of organic vegetables from these people and rate them very highly.

And here's a directory of companies which deliver all kinds of organic produce in London.
posted by essexjan at 4:21 AM on February 9, 2006

I used to use Abel & Cole. The service was great, the selection good, and the price okay. I tended to find though that the produce was variable - the vegetables were always great, and would throw up some nice surprises (like kohlrabi) from time to time, but the fruit - especially things like apples - were often quite nasty: mealy, flavourless, cotton-wool textured wastes of time. The soft fruits in the summer were often very good though.

In any event, I didn't stop using them for this reason - it was moving to a house where they couldn't leave their box outside if we weren't in that was the problem. I'd strongly recommend them if you are prepared to just buy veggies (they also do organic meat, fish, bread and dairy - but I haven't tried any of these), but if you want fruit too then maybe give them a miss or ask them to sub the apples and any other fruit that you have problems with.
posted by bifter at 4:27 AM on February 9, 2006

Abel and Cole is the best-known firm of this kind. I don't use them myself so can't offer a personal recommendation, but this article gives you a good idea of what to expect. (It's generally positive, but not uncritical: 'you can often open your Abel & Cole box to find a polite apology: some calamity has befallen the leeks and it's bloody celeriac yet again.')

The farmers' market at Alexandra Palace is excellent, by the way -- it's there most Sundays -- and it's also worth checking out local corner-shops, which can often be extremely good. If you want to be an ethical consumer, then I would recommend shopping at small local shops rather than using a home delivery service -- though I realise this may not be a practical option if you're out at work all day or very pressed for time.
posted by verstegan at 4:41 AM on February 9, 2006

We used Abel and Cole for a year and I would recommend them. Their organic milk is excellent.

My grumbles with them: a lot of the stuff is not particularly local (oranges, bananas) - I can get that myself down the road, and the substitutions comment is fair - we wind up with lots of brassicas in winter (crikey, another cauli!), although you can hard wire your preferences.

Positives are the web-based interface (gone for a week, put on hold) and the ability to easily change orders as required (family coming? lay in more). We took their Christmas box and it really was everything we needed apart from the meat. The delivery comes with a recipe sheet which is also useful as it's usually related to what's in the box.

A good way to shop and their prices are reasonable. They would just tuck the stuff in front of my car if we weren't at home. That was always good enough for us.
posted by sagwalla at 6:27 AM on February 9, 2006

For meat I can definitely recommend Detton Farm. I've not been disappointed with any of their deliveries.
posted by patricio at 6:41 AM on February 9, 2006

WE used Abel and Cole for about 3 months at the end of last year, but cancelled. The quality of the produce was too variable for us. As the poster above says, fruit was often, very poor, as were the potatoes. And the work involved in cleaning everything was too much for us!
posted by ascullion at 8:01 AM on February 9, 2006

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody.
posted by yankeefog at 12:19 AM on February 10, 2006

Thanks again for the advice, everybody.

We used Able & Cole for a little while. The service was generally excellent. (Although I could never get them to buzz our flat when they left the delivery; they'd always drop it off and leave without buzzing. No big deal, but it meant I'd have to go outside and check a few times on delivery day.)

However, we weren't thrilled with the taste of the fruits or vegetables. It was never unpleasant to the taste, but it was often bland. So, we recently tried Riverford for a few weeks and have been more happy with the flavor of their produce. We've also found that the mix of items seems a little more useful, although it's hard for me to put my finger on why exactly. That might just be a seasonal thing, since we were using Able & Cole in the colder months, when there is a different mix of produce available.

My only complaint about Riverford is that they have fewer extra products available. Both companies sell milk and eggs, but Able & Cole also sells meat and bread.

All in all, both companies have their advantages, but we've found Riverford to be a better choice.
posted by yankeefog at 4:15 AM on June 24, 2006

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