About ten years ago a friend of mine started having organic veg boxes from a company called Riverford. Now, I knew that if she recommended them, they had to be special. My friend and her husband are the sort of people who research meticulously before they buy, so I knew they would have rigorously investigated the British organic veg box offerings, looking at every angle and tiniest detail possible before making their choice. So trusting their judgement, I also started ordering my fruit and vegetables from www.riverford.co.uk.
I have now done so for nearly ten years and it feels like Riverford and I have become friends. There is a certain feeling of love in my heart when I put my empty boxes out on a Tuesday night and open the door Wednesday morning to a stack of colourful, vibrant apples, pears, carrots and greens bursting with energy and happily giving their life for mine. (Yes, I do actually think like that about my food and am full of gratitude for their sacrifice. And I’m not on my own. In Ayurveda it is said that the most important ingredient in a meal is the consciousness of the chef. Feeling love and gratitude during the preparation of food does get transferred into the pot - don't you just love that thought!)
Guy Singh-Watson, the founder of Riverford speaks my language and embodies so many things I totally believe in. At the centre of everything I do and everything Riverford does is the deep belief that we can all live on this planet and thrive if we focus on harmony and balance in everything we do, work as a community and share equally whatever wealth our beautiful mother Earth has to offer. He is also a stubborn fighter who follows his beliefs - not without constantly re-evaluating them - and is not scared to stand up to mainstream capitalism and consumerism driven my profits more than the welfare of the plant and animal kingdoms, which we are part of.
When he decided to retire, having grown a small Devon-based veggie box delivery into one of the biggest box schemes in the UK and one of the most ethical companies in Britain, Riverford became a cooperative owned by its employees.
Every week, a newsletter occupancies the veg boxes, giving consumers a little glimpse of the farm life behind the boxes we find on our doorstep. My heart bursts every week at the stories, struggles and joys shared by the farmers supplying Riverford from the UK, France or Spain (they air freight as little as possible). As of this year, all packaging is non-plastic, the vast majority of it can just be home-composted. The newsletter also keeps up to date with UK farming practices and my blood slightly wells up when reading about laws passed allowing the destruction of our soil through farming in non-organic practices. It's not so much anger as a deep sadness that the people who could affect true change on a much bigger scale are still following the dollar sign rather than their conscience. But even with that I feel the certainty in my heart that as humankind we are moving in the right direction. More and more people are becoming conscious of their footprint on earth, making healthier choices for themselves and the planet.
If you’re stuck for ideas of how to cook a Jerusalem artichoke or make the most of your spring greens, the Riverford website is full of tips, tricks and ideas of how to best store and eat your fruit and veg. They also run a magazine called Wicked Leaks that makes the most wonderful reading: intelligent, investigative journalism at the heart of the farming industry. If you want the truth about where we find ourselves at any one time, good or bad, you’ll find it here: https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/
I pray that we move quickly enough into the “good” to save us, but then - as macabre as that might sound to some - I also know that whatever happens to us as a species, nature will survive and thrive, probably more so once we're no longer obstructing its natural drive to blossom and bloom wildly without limitations, enjoying the freedom of growth and the vibrancy of life at its own free will, not controlled by humans. The site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the 80s thriving with wildlife now is the best example. I am, however, an undying optimist and totally believe we can turn things around and live the dream John Lennon dreamt in his song “Imagine”.
Let’s imagine together that it’s possible to live our life like nature does: in cycles of growth and rest, free to do what we love and do best, but in balance with everything around us. Let’s only take what we truly need. Let us love everything that exists and let us realise that everything is one, that we are all part of the same tapestry. Destroying nature means destroying ourselves, loving nature means loving ourselves. I choose love. What do you choose (when you next go shopping)?