If you like the idea of going organic but aren’t keen on buying your fruit and veg at a supermarket, an online organic home box delivery service could be for you. We asked three families in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to give it a go for four weeks — here are their experiences.
Green Line Organic Direct
Box of the week: ($35/$45/$55/$70/$100), free delivery on Melbourne metro standing orders and Melbourne metro orders over $100.
Delivery area: Melbourne on Thursday/Friday and major Victorian country areas on Friday.
Payment: They phone you to organise payment: credit card, BPAY or money order.
Sharon from Melbourne tried a weekly box from Green Line Organic Direct. With three teenage children, she found having a box of home-delivered fruit and vegetables very convenient, but was frustrated by the surprise factor of not knowing what they’d receive. “My family’s likes and dislikes didn’t always match well with the week’s box. We eat lots of carrots — raw and cooked — and the box couldn’t keep up.
There was plenty of variety, but not all the things I would usually buy,” she says. “Organic fruit and veg is more expensive per kilo, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quantity I got for $55 each week.” Sometimes things didn’t look as perfect as regular vegies, but the taste and quality were generally good. However, she found it a challenge to convince her teenagers that slightly strange-shaped snow peas were fine.
Sharon was impressed with the helpful website, which had recipe ideas and lots of information. She doesn’t usually buy organic fruit and veg, but says that now she’ll be more inclined to do so. She won’t be continuing with delivered boxes, though: “I still prefer to look over and select my own fruit and veg — what I buy depends on what’s still in the crisper from last week, family fads, and what’s fresh and good value.”
Farm Fresh Organics
Box: Small ($35); medium ($50); large ($70), plus delivery. Minimum order $50.
Delivery area: Brisbane, Ipswich and surrounding areas, delivered on Thursday and Friday.
Payment: Direct deposit or credit card — you call them to arrange it.
Robyn from Brisbane sampled a weekly box from Farm Fresh Organics. She and her husband their teenage family are keen organic buyers — they have a local supplier Robyn trusts, who sells organics at prices often similar to those she’d pay for conventional fruit and veg at her local supermarket.
She thought the mixed box from Farm Fresh Organics was easy to order, as well as fresh and good value for money, but found the fixed contents of the weekly box something of a challenge: “The same fruit and vegetables appeared from week to week in large amounts, so I was fairly quickly overloaded with silverbeet, potatoes, oranges, apples, onions and carrots. Our fridge quickly became a version of The Day of the Triffids.”
Robyn thinks ordering item by item from the website would make more sense for her family, allowing her to buy exactly what she wants in the amounts she needs that week. “You can ask for up to three items to be excluded from your box, but not for anything specific to be added. But it’s a good way of getting vegies you might not usually buy and experimenting with how to cook them.”
In the end, Robyn decided not to continue with the delivery service: “I’ve got a local market supplier that’s great value, and I know from experience I can rely on the quality.”
Box: Mixed boxes ($35/$45/$60/$75/$100), free delivery (Sydney metro).
Delivery area: Sydney, Blue Mountains, Nepean; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, depending on area.
Payment: Online by credit card.
Elisabeth and Greg from Sydney have four small (and hungry) boys under seven. They tried a weekly box from Abundant Organics. “We’re pretty busy, as you can imagine,” says Elisabeth, “and home-delivered anything is a great time saver.
We were really happy with the convenience and quality, but we’re a big family, we rarely eat out, and the boys are all keen fruit eaters. Even though I was getting the biggest mixed box on offer ($100), I still had to buy extra fruit each week — a rockmelon can disappear just for the boys’ dessert.”
The family doesn’t usually buy organic fruit and veg, although they like the idea: “If money was no object, we’d continue with the deliveries — it was a real time saver and I like the idea of buying organic and in season. But I usually spend about $50 on fruit and veg and buy the things that are the best value that week. This was great, but seemed to be about twice the cost,” concludes Elisabeth.
What to consider
There are lots of home-delivery fruit and veg businesses on the net — some are organic, some not. To find one that suits you:
- If you want organic produce, check their policy on certified versus non-certified. Certified organics are your best guarantee of getting what you're paying for (see Is it organic?).
- Some may use more local sources and others source nationally and internationally. It will affect the variety available as well as the distance the food has to travel.
- Check the variety of box sizes. Some services have one size, others several. Some let you request certain things be left out or added if available. With some you may be able to see what's in the box before you order. With others it's a total surprise.
- Check if you can choose your own individual order rather than a fixed box. All the families who tried boxes for us thought this would suit them better.
- Check the delivery areas and days/times — some are more flexible than others.
- Check their payment method: some have secure online credit card payments; others will call you after you place your first order to arrange a payment method (cheque, direct deposit, credit card over the phone and so on).