Biologisch Goed

The subject of what we eat, and where our food comes from has been on my mind a lot recently.  I try to eat a healthy diet, and I greatly prefer not to buy prepackaged or preprocessed food, but the reality is, I hate shopping, I’m not very organized, and especially on Fridays and Saturdays when I have little time, I tend to go to the train station supermarket and grab the easiest thing going.  Even if my choice is healthy, it usually comes wrapped in superfluous packaging, all of which makes me wince when I tear it open and dispose of it.

I’m still hoping, of course, to start eating home grown vegetables again soon, but at the moment the weather and the slugs aren’t giving me much hope.  The potatoes are doing ok, though not as far along as the plot next to me (ahem, and some of them I bought and planted on a whim, far too late!), the peas are slowly taking off, but are miles behind my neighbours, and my great plans of overwintering vegetables didn’t get me too far.  The plot is slowly coming into order, but I have a lot to learn before I manage to have something available more or less year round.

In the meantime, then, I need to fill all my requirements at the shops.  I’d prefer to do that by frequenting small, local stores, but with working full time and singing every other Saturday, I rarely manage it.  It’s nice to go to the Farmers Market in Amsterdam, but I rarely manage to find the time before rehearsal for evensong.

I was delighted, therefore, to discover an online store last week – www.biologischgoed.nl.  It’s a co-operative of 4 farmers, all in the province of Zuid Holland, where I live.  Their aim is to supply, so far as possible, locally grown organic food within our province.   Their range isn’t limited to locally grown, however, they also sell produce from the rest of the country, imported items such as avocados, and non-perishable staples.  With every listing on the site, information is provided telling you where the produce has come from, and in some cases, suggestions on how to use it.

Whilst a part of me thinks it would be great if they only sold local produce, I think they’ve done a good job of putting together an offering which reduces food travel, and supports local businesses, whilst accepting that people are always going to buy additional items, and therefore giving them an opportunity to buy everything under one roof.  The one proviso, however, is that they only deliver in Zuid Holland.

Full of enthusiasm, I placed my first order last week.  Some local cherries and strawberries (for someone that’s never been fond of fruit, I have a strange craving for it the last few days), goats milk and goats butter from a farm in Noord Holland, sheep’s yoghurt from Overijssel, plenty of veggies including a huge bag of beetroots, half of which I’ve spent the afternoon converting into borscht, and some cat food, which the boys are studiously turning their noses up at.  I guess we can’t expect everything to be a success!

homemade cherry crumble, made with goat’s butter and served with sheep yoghurt.

Probably one of the best features, and the one that makes the system most usable for me, is that the groceries are delivered to your door, and if you’re not able to be at home to receive them, they will happily stash them away somewhere for you.  I left instructions on how to get to my back garden, and without any fuss, my two crates of goodies were taken around the back, and put in the shelter of my shed, an added detail taken on the initiative of the driver, with which I was most pleased.  The crate containing all the dairy was insulated, so I didn’t even need to worry too much about it sitting outside for a few hours, although not knowing what to expect on this first occasion, I also arranged with them that they’d give me a call when the groceries were delivered, so I could nip home from work over lunch and take everything inside.

Additionally, they provide an option to deliver to a shared location (a service which any individual can provide) and which incurs a lower delivery rate.  They work on a simple system of delivering once a week, on a Thursday (perfect for me, since I tend to have an empty fridge going into the weekend, just when I need it the most), and all orders placed up to lunchtime Monday go out in that order, giving them two days to go to the individual farms and collect everything to put the orders together.

All in all, I’m very impressed by the service and will definitely use it again.  It’s more expensive, of course, than the main supermarkets, but in my view, also a far better direction to spend my money.  Plus, having groceries delivered to my door with no hassle of having to be at home to receive them is probably the best way I’ll find to ensure that my fridge stays better stocked.  A better stocked fridge and some work on preplanning means less money spent on takeaways, train station foods or unsatisfying grabbed lunches on the days that I do sport or go to the allotment during lunch, which these days are most days.

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