Veg Box Newsletter 27th April: Here’s to the Hungry Gap!

COVID-19 PANDEMIC UPDATES

There’s no particular news relating to the pandemic this week, but please read our company-wide statement here, our biggest veg-box update here, and our last few newsletters for recent developments.
If you use Facebook, I also recommend joining our Facebook group for regular updates.

The Nice Bit

I’m going to level with you. I get a veg box too, the same as yours, and I know they’ve been pretty lackluster recently. It’s hard to get excited about limp carrots, another cabbage after a cabbagey winter (as much as I love cabbages), beetroot in April- these aren’t the veg we want to be eating when the sun is shining and the world going green outside our windows. If we can’t be out and about, we want to bring the Spring indoors and eat it. We want asparagus, crisp and sharp, and tomatoes, and buttery lettuces, dark ferrous broccoli and pale perky cauliflowers. I miss green beans, courgettes, cucumbers, and onions! When the evenings get lighter, the days brighter, the way we want to eat changes.

What’s difficult is that the veg we want now isn’t ready yet. The UK growing season has a lull in it, a period when we run out of the stored veg from autumn but there’s not much in season- and what there is, there’s only a little of. This is what we call the hungry gap, and you’ve seen us talking about it a lot lately. We’re pretty unique among veg box services in that we only use UK produce for our veg boxes (generally- see below), but don’t stop for the hungry gap. We want to keep getting veg out to you all year round, even in this tricky time.

This year it’s trickier than ever. The hungry gap is hitting extra hard due to a poor season- I’m told there was too much rain over the winter, and a lot of crops were damaged by those storms we saw back in February. We also now have the pandemic to contend with, which has increased demand hugely not just for us, but for everyone. Our suppliers aren’t usually as overwhelmed with demand as they are now. We don’t usually need to compete with supermarkets for veg, but as they face incredible demand they are buying from sources we use. This is compounded by some difficulty getting things through from Europe- the supply lines are open, but there’s increased demand and reduced staff on the continent too.

All these problems also push up prices massively, which is why you may find your boxes contain less at this time of year. The boxes are always worth what we change for them, but what that amounts to can vary. Veg Box manager Sally has written more about the challenges we’re currently facing and how we’re tacking them here.

So it’s difficult, is what I’m saying. Eating locally and seasonally isn’t easy, although we try to make it as easy as possible so that you can all partake in its joys. We want your boxes to be as good as they can be all year round. Right now, the circumstances are unprecedented and we’re having to adapt as quickly as we can. To offset the increased prices, we’ve lowered our margins on the veg boxes; we’re contacting new suppliers to broaden our choice as much as possible; we’re using what we can get from our own farm whenever we can. We’ve also compensated in the other direction, and this week have sourced some beetroot from Spain for the veg boxes. We generally like to keep the veg boxes full of UK produce, but our top priority right now is getting veg boxes out, so we’ve made a rare exception. We’re also switching suppliers for the carrots, so we hope that they’ll be in better condition from this week on, and we’ve asked the packers to keep quality control in mind even during this rough time.

Over the next weeks, our farm and other growers in the UK will see things improve. All that green is growing, getting ready to fill our veg boxes, kitchens, and bellies. We have some really lovely things this week already- early tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, crisp lettuce, sorrell, leeks, rhubarb! More is coming- it will only get better from here. As the season changes we will eat all the delightful things our soil grows. We have a helpful calendar of when to expect to see what types of produce here, although please note that it can vary a lot depending on the weather and demand.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of joy to be had from the first green things, and from the potatoes and swede and beetroot that have gotten us fed all winter long. We can make spiced carrot cakes, borscht (and green borscht with that sorrel), panzaella (maybe with the ends of that sourdough we’ve all been baking lately), sliced fennel salads with citrus, banana ice cream (chocolate sprinkles on mine please!), and leek gratins to scoop up on garlic-rubbed toast. What imaginative ways are you getting the most out of the veg this week?

And if you’re really having a hard time with the hungry gap, why not consider taking a pause? If you’d like to wait out the gap and come back when the boxes are brimful with green beans and cucumbers, just send us an email and we can put your box on holiday for a specific time, or pause it until you’re ready.

Whatever you decide, we’ll be here cooking and eating alongside you, so get in touch if we can help you take joy from this difficult season. We’ll only appreciate all the splendour of the high season more for this lull, after all. So let’s make the most of it- here’s to the hungry gap!

Good Food Fund

Good Food Fund

We are writing to you today to say a big thank you to all the veg box customers who continue to donate to the Good Food Fund. We have gone a bit quiet over the last few weeks in dealing with the effects that the corona crisis has had on our various partners, but you can be sure that your donations have made a big difference to the organisations we already work with and we have also been able to help a few other projects that were struggling.

Overall we have found that many foodbanks closed down in Glasgow at the beginning of lock down and this has put additional pressure on the ones that stayed open, such as our partners Auldhouse Community Church Foodbank, Al Farooq Education and Community Centre and Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church Foodbank. The panic buying caused a breakdown in the flow of surplus for a while, which is an important source of food for these projects. People losing their jobs and signing onto Universal Credit has caused additional pressure for them, before the furlough situation was clarified by the Government. In these initial weeks we were able to help these projects very quickly thanks to your donations, by increasing their orders.

Some of our partners who help people affected by homelessness and rough sleeping have clients now accommodated in hotels who would have previously been able to come to community meals for hot food. The Marie Trust in particular had people at their door looking for food that is ready to eat. At the same time they were trying to encourage people to stay at ‘home’. We were able to help by sending them fruit and tins of soup as well as ingredients to make takeaway meals. Our own kitchen has also been producing ready meals and these have been very welcome with Al Farooq and Queens Park projects who were facing a similar issue of trying to supply people who are accommodated in rooms without cooking facilities.

In addition to this we are supporting Food For Good with a donation of £5000.

Food For Good Glasgow is a coalition of Glasgow Community Food Network, Glasgow Food Policy Partnership, Strath Food Sharing, Slow Food Glasgow and civil society volunteers.

They are supporting community organisations providing an emergency food service to food insecure residents by:

-Mapping the needs and resources across the city

-Sourcing and delivering food, cleaning materials and basic protective equipment (for as long as feasible)

-Signposting organisations to other food, support agencies and health and safety information

-Working with other networks in the city such as Glasgow Mutual Aid and GCVS and Glasgow City Council to link up and streamline responses to the crisis.

The need for community based emergency food provision is strong at the moment. We really appreciate your support that enables us to help out at a time of crisis.

You can consider donating direct to the Food For Good fundraiser here.

You can also set up a regular donation to our Good Food Fund by emailing us, or make a one off donation through the Online Veg Box Shop.

Once again, thank you so much for helping to make a difference with your donations!

David’s Produce Paintings


Another way to support the Good Food Fund is via David McDiarmid’s amazing fruit and veg paintings. David says these are:

“A new series of paintings  made for 12øCollective’s 30/30 challenge to make 30 works in 30 days throughout the month of April. Given the country is in lockdown, I’ve been thankful for the fact my flatmate and I are signed up to receive Locavore Veg Boxes each week and so this set of paintings is a tribute to fruit and vegetables of all shapes and sizes – and keeps me ticking over while working from home!  £5 of every sale will be donated to Locavore’s Good Food Fund which Lovavore use to buy fruit and veg at cost price and pass it on to their partner organisations who run emergency food provision for those living in poverty.”

What a brilliant idea! David’s art is beautiful, the veg carefully observed and considered. Check them out, and consider an investment to brighten your walls while supporting Locavore’s Good Food Fund and a local artist on David’s Etsy page here.

Check out storage guidance here for helpful tips and tricks on how to prolong the life of your fresh produce. If you’re wondering where your veg comes from, have a look at these maps. You can also join your fellow subscribers over in the Facebook group for lots of tips, tricks, and recipe ideas.   To contact us, ring 0141 378 1672
or email us at subscribers@glasgowlocavore.org

What’s in your box
Subject to changes
Small veg box Farm Organic Certifier
Potatoes Chapel Farm SA
Lettuce St Helens Farm SA
Leeks
Polybell SA
White Mushrooms Orchard Organics SA
Beetroot

Standard veg box Farm Organic Certifier
Potatoes Chapel SA
Lettuce St Helens Farm SA
Asparagus Bedlam SA
Carrots Polybell SA
Beetroot

Tomatoes Mixed The Tomato Stall SA
Large veg box Farm Organic Certifier
Potatoes Chapel SA
Lettuce St Helens Farm SA
Leeks Polybell SA
Asparagus Bedlam SA
White Mushrooms Orhcard Organics SA
Tomatoes Mixed The Tomato Stall SA
Pak Choi Goodness Growing SA
Extra Large veg box Farm Organic Certifier
Potatoes Chapel Farm SA
Lettuce St Helens Farm SA
Leeks Polybell SA
White Mushrooms Orhcard Organics SA
Beetroot

Tomatoes (Mixed) The Tomato Stall SA
Pak choi Goodness Growing SA
Small fruit bag Farm / Origin Organic Certifier
Bananas Fairtrasa BCS
Golden Apple Dynamis Ecocert
Rhubarb McCleod organics SA
Medium fruit bag Farm / Origin Organic Certifier
Bananas Fairtrasa BCS
Blueberries Flor de Donna Caae
Golden Apple Dynamis Ecocert
Rhubarb McCleod SA
Large fruit bag Farm / Origin Organic Certifier
Bananas Fairtrasa BCS
Bluberries Flor de Donna Caae
Golden Apple Dynamis Ecocert
Rhubarb McCleod SA
Extra large fruit bag Farm / Origin Organic Certifier
Bananas Fairtrasa BCS
Blueberries Flor de Donna Caae
Golden Apple Dynamis Ecocert
Rhubarb McCleod SA
Lemon Dynamis Caae
Small supplementary veg Origin Organic Certifier
Fennel Biovergel Caae
Tomatoe Plum Bioalgarrobo Caae
Standard supplementary veg Origin Organic Certifier
Avocado Bioalgarrobo Caae
Fennel Biovergel Caae
Tomatoes plum Bioalgarrobo Caae

Enjoy!

The Locavore Team

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