As we face an uncertain few months of isolation ahead with fear knocking at our doors and unprecedented limitations on our usual freedoms, it's quite incredible to see that many of us have started to cook more, waste less and save money. Beans and bread flour sales are out the roof, we're seeking fridge-raid and storecupboard recipes and local food businesses are suddenly oversubscribed. If there's anything positive to say about these strange times, it's that we are learning to eat less wastefully and more locally too.
Farmers and suppliers who once delivered to restaurants, cafés and pubs are now re-directing their seasonal produce to our homes via online delivery boxes. Local bakers, cheesemongers, dairies and even breweries and winemakers are getting in on the action, collaborating with other food businesses to deliver their quality produce so it's more possible than ever to get artisanal, quality groceries all in one go.
Wherever you are in the UK, now is a great opportunity to shop around to see which farmers and producers are delivering to your door, whether it's a farmer who you'd usually find at your local market or a nationwide box scheme. Here's a round-up of the delivery boxes we're subscribing to, with our favourite recipe ideas thrown in to help you make the most of it.
Vibrant veg! Our favourite veg box schemes
Riverford have been around forever and for good reason; founded by farmer Guy Singh-Watson, Devon-based Riverford have been supplying quality organic veg to UK homes for over 30 years, raising awareness around the benefits of pesticide-free veg all grown with the planet in mind. Abel & Cole are another established organic veg box service – you can check out their brilliant cookbook, How to Eat Brilliantly Everyday as a guide to eating seasonally. We're huge fans of Oddbox, who are commited to a zero waste approach to supplying 'wonky' fruit and veg that would be otherwise discarded. Due to the current demand they have paused new orders but have set up a waiting list ready for when they are back up and running.
From the book
Abel & Cole: How to Eat Brilliantly Every Day
140 recipes from organic food delivery sensation, Abel & Cole
Seasonal and sustainable cooking made simple
Creative twists on classic dishes
Pale Green Dot (pictured) and Natoora supplied restaurants until a few weeks ago, when they had to quickly change their operations towards home delivery. Both supply to London (Pale Green Dot supplies to Sussex too) with radically seasonal produce and an emphasis on shaking up the food system through supporting local, sustainable farming methods. Not limited to veg, you can expect milk from small dairies, eggs and bread too. Got dense, earthy delicious pink fir apple potatoes in your box? Try this Pink Fir Apple & Feta Salad.
For more of a gourmet veg box, check out Herefordshire-based Fern Verrow who supply to their local area as well as London. Their certified biodynamic farm grows all sorts of delicious veg varieties and you can get fresh flowers thrown into your box too.
What's in season now? Look out for new-season English asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, lettuce and salad leaves, spring onions and wild garlic. Add green veg into Jamie's Green Veg Mac 'n' Cheese from his Veg cookbook. Tender, vibrant purple sprouting broccoli is delicious right now – add it to Meera Sodha's veggie Peanut Butter Pad Thai.
London-based Farmdrop are an ethical online supermarket specialising in sustainably reared meat, from grass-fed, pasture-raised beef to truly free-roaming chicken. If you live outside of the M25, try Pipers Farm who deliver UK wide for free-range duck as well as their Saddleback pork and pasture-raised beef. They also sell boxes with grass-fed milk and butter and artisan cheese. Coombe Farm Organic are an organic farm in Somerset who are slow-growing native breeds to produce award-winning meat.
If you've got a whole chicken in your box this week, try Rick Stein's Oven-roasted Chicken with Sumac, Pomegranate Molasses, Chilli and Sesame Seeds. For a brilliant guide and all you need to know about cooking meat properly, read Neil Rankin's Low and Slow cookbook.
Cheese & dairy
Never before has it been so easy to buy dairy from small, local herds direct to our doors. Somerset dairy Ivy House Farm produces exceptional milk and butter, which they deliver to their local area as well as via Farmdrop and other box schemes, such as London Cheesemongers (pictured) who deliver Neal's Yard yoghurt, local bread, eggs and a selection of artisanal cheeses.
Hook & Son sell raw milk in glass bottles, yoghurt and labneh, usually via Borough Market, but now online and nationwide. The Estate Dairy is another Somerset farm selling everything from milk in glass bottles to eggs to artisanal cheese to cultured butter. For an epic weekend brunch, try this simple recipe for Poached Eggs with Yoghurt & Chilli Butter or put your butter and eggs to good use with The Violet Bakery Cookbook's cakes and bakes.
Wine and beer
There are plenty of breweries, wine shops, bars and restaurants now bringing booze to your door. Dynamic Vines are the UK’s leading importer and distributer of organic and biodynamic wines, as well as Unchartered Wines and Specialist Cellars who sell new world wines across the UK. For local craft beer, check out Honest Brew or your local brewery.