I love to cook. I also adore shopping. Then again, I love skipping through sun-dappled, grassy fields of wildflowers, but I don’t have time to do that every single day either.
So, yeah, I’ll admit it: I don’t make it to my neighborhood farmers market as much as I’d like. Often, I end up using the local grocery store. In the warmer months, I participate in a CSA (community supported agriculture, in which you pay for one share at the start of a farmer’s season and pick up whatever’s been harvested every week).
Neither option is very convenient, although the second way makes me feel like a better person. Still. I’ve found another way, short of frozen food, those meal kit delivery services, or heaven forbid, ordering pizza or restaurant delivery from GrubHub/Seamless.
I found another way.
Farmbox Direct is a delivery service providing organic and natural produce handpicked from farms and vendors, local or regional when possible. Shipping is free to more than 75 percent of the United States, although there’s a $5.98 handling fee.
Somebody else was also curious about what came in the Farmbox Direct package.
The website enables you to check out if you’d have to pay an extra shipping fee by typing in your zip code. For fun, I tried an Anchorage, AK, zip code and got a shipping fee of $72.97, which is actually understandable. I tried somewhere else that seems remote and wintry to me but is in the contiguous United States — Sioux Falls, South Dakota — and shipping was free. Not bad.
The choices are pretty simple. You choose a box size (small, medium, or large), and then you decide whether you want only fruit, only vegetables, or a mixed-produce box delivered to your door at home or at work. For juicers, there are three box choices (red, green, and orange) packed with healthy vegetables and fruits ready to be pulverized.
The bountiful produce inside.
Whatever you get, it’s packaged in a fully biodegradable box and insulation with reusable ice packs to keep your food fresh. Delivery is Tuesday through Friday, and you can change, skip, or cancel your order by 3 a.m. three days before delivery.
There’s a weekly recipe on the website, but when I looked, it was for acorn squash, which I didn’t receive in my box, so that was no help. Farmbox Direct founder and CEO Ashley Tyrner says a recipe card will go in each box as soon as next week as a regular practice.
Unlike a CSA, it’s also customizable. You can log in and make up to five changes if there’s, say, eggplant and you despise eggplant. Or, like me, you feel nothing for the purple blob and get excited about double broccolini instead.
Tyrner, who grew up on a farm in the Midwest but found success in the fashion industry in New York City as an adult, used food stamps for a short time for her and her daughter. She knows the difficulty in finding fresh, affordable food when you’re short on money and time.
That makes sense for most of us.
Although my first delivery landed at the wrong address, when I did get my first box, it didn’t disappoint. It was a medium organic box, and the treasure inside looked plentiful and beautiful.
I love avocados, and there were two. They weren’t black yet and needed about three days to ripen to perfection. There was also a bag of small, shiny, sweet, mild peppers in orange, red, and yellow. The kale was curly, not my favorite variety (dino is better in my opinion), but it was fresh, and best of all – there, right on my kitchen counter.
The big yellow onion and head of garlic that came in the box are staples for me, so much appreciated. The two bags of Brussels sprout were gorgeous and ideal for winter roasting.
â€‹.Roasted zucchini and carrots from the Farmbox Direct package with pork tenderloin.
The menu changes weekly, according to season and locale. Considering this was early March in New York, I was a bit curious why I received navel oranges and a grapefruit from Mexico, as well as summer squash like zucchini — although I eat it out of season anyway because, hello, some of us low-carb people spiralize year-round. But everything was organic, and you can’t have everything. Or you can, and that’s why it’s not locally sourced in the winter.
Cooking with fresh produce is a top priority for me and my health, and the more locally sourced the food is, the better — for getting the most nutrients and taste, as well as helping the local farmer and community. If I had to choose one over the other, local would beat organic. But reducing my pesticide intake is pretty important too, especially for food that grows above ground and has edible skin.
Roasted brussell sprouts and potatoes.
Another admission: I buy some food out of season because I want what I want, when I want it. So, I guess the priority at Farmbox Direct is ensuring the customer has a variety of organic food over minimal local food. It is winter, after all. And I imagine that in Florida, the delivered food is local right now.
Digging through the well-packed box, I was happy to discover tri-colored carrots and two, fuzzy, adorable kiwi. That’s just plain fun. All in all, everything came fresh, and nothing was “weird,” so it should appeal to the average cook. It’s not like I was going to get stumped on what to do with this food.
For my first dinner after the box arrived on our doorstep, I roasted the zucchini and carrots along with some pork tenderloin. To go with his turkey meatballs on another night, my boyfriend roasted the Brussels sprouts and potatoes from the box, which I loved. For breakfast, I made a frittata with some sautéed kale, onion, and peppers (pictured above). The rest of the kale was also sautéed for another dinner, forming a bed for our (farmers’ market) blackfish to luxuriate in.
Basically, this Farmbox Direct service made colorful eating easier. I’m a firm believer in the message behind the #eattherainbow hashtag. This is a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.
I do want some jalapenos and lime to make guacamole with those two avocados (organic, but from Mexico). So, *sigh* I’ll be heading to the grocery store tomorrow anyway.
Amy Sowder is a writer and editor in New York City who covers food and wellness. She tries to make all her meals colorful, which is her roundabout way of eating well (and her Instagram posts don’t suffer either). Learn more at www.AmySowder.com.
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