Being modern: The organic vegetable box

it is with a degree of knowingness that a column about how to be modern should kick off with an object so closely related to the ancient acts of tilling the land, sowing the seed and reaping the harvest. There is, it must be said, an almost biblical simplicity to the idea of the organic vegetable box. Not that it is the likes of us actually doing any of that tilling, sowing and reaping, you understand. That would involve being outdoors in all weathers, putting unnecessary strain on our tender back muscles and the accumulation of dirt under our immaculate fingernails.

The solution? Pay a middle-man (sometimes directly involved with the farming, often not) to select and deliver the fresh produce for you. It is a solution that has been around since the late 1980s but really took off in the following decade when the public caught on to all the invisible signals that having one of those smart yellow vans pull up outside your front door sent out to the neighbours. Look at us, we are too busy/important to shop. Gaze on in awe at our organic lifestyle. Observe our love and respect for the land and those who work it.

There are currently more than 600 such schemes operating in the UK and the last time the Soil Association totted up their value, there was thought to be about £100m worth of retail sales in the sector. So what can you expect if you sign up? A typical scheme will deliver a box each week for between £12 and £25, depending on size. For your money, you will receive some fruit and veg you will use and recognise (potatoes and apples, for example) and some that will require the explanation of the accompanying newsletter (kohlrabi, anyone?).

But none of that is really what you will be paying for. Because for a minimum outlay of £500 a year you will get to forget for one small moment that you are a stressed-out office drone, and fulfil those dreams of Tom and Barbara Good you've been harbouring since the 1970s.

You can't put a price on that. Like the amount you should or shouldn't tip the driver. But that is a whole other "Being modern" column.

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