Why the veg box rocks

A while back I wrote about a friend and my quest to get an organic vegetable box here in Madrid. I thought it might be worthwhile to post a follow-up because both my friend and I are so pleased that we decided to do this. All winter we’ve received boxes of very tasty fresh fruit and vegetables from Recapte and it’s really changed the way both of us eat (and, to some extent, live).

For starters, I’d say that the primary component of most of my meals this year has been vegetables, complemented by a good amount of fruit for dessert or snacks. Secondly, while some vegetables are ready to eat, most take a bit of preparation, which means we have to dedicate more time to getting meals ready and investigating ways to use vegetables that we haven’t cooked with before. I do believe that this is time and energy well-spent. One of the best changes is that I’ve greatly reduced the number of trips I make to the supermarket. In fact, I hardly go. I usually go to NaturaSí for basics like oats, yogurt, rice, and pasta, and to my local panadería for loaves of bread. My cousin taps maple trees in upstate New York and makes syrup, which I always bring back from the States and for the past few months I’ve been using honey from a friend of a friend’s bees and sheep’s cheese from a student’s finca. The time I save by not going to the supermarket is probably reinvested in cooking my vegetables. Fifteen euros a week has really never been more valuable.

All of these experiences were reaffirmed as good things by my reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma last November and really starting to think about where my meals come from. It’s good to care (peanut scare: case in point). By no means do I feed myself the perfect diet, but I think the changes brought on by the box are a step in the right direction.

I leave you with highlights from the veg box, October-February:

Boniatos (sweet potatoes): easily our favorite product of the fall. Mashed or as oven fries, there’s never been such a vast improvement on the potato.

Granadas (pomegranates): another fall treat, great in salads and out.

Calabaza (squash/pumpkin): I turned a big one we got into many cups of purée and made two pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and froze the rest. Last week I defrosted it and made pumpkin soup and three loaves of pumpkin bread.

Aguacates (avocados): we’ve been getting the most amazing ones for maybe two months and haven’t tired of them yet.

Chirivías (parsnips): started appearing sometime in January. Love ’em roasted!

Acelgas (Swiss chard): a staple for months now and a green I’ve grown to love, steamed or sautéed.


10 Responses to “Why the veg box rocks”

  1. 1 Alx Thursday, 19 February, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Me alegra mucho que vuelvas a escribir en tu blog, Katie. Conociéndote como te conozco estoy seguro de que no has parado de hacer otras cosas; sin embargo esta es la única manera que tenemos tus amigos lejanos de saber de ti, a parte de Flickr, y como tienes la cámara rota….
    Respecto a tu post, lo único que me da envidia son las granadas, juas. El resto…, casi que me quedo con mi dieta de carne y pasta :p.
    No dejes de escribir, que es una de esas cosas que se te dan muy bien. XD

  2. 2 Pamela Thursday, 19 February, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Just some thoughts that entered my head as I read over your list.

    Persian cuisine uses pomegranates to excellent effect, try Khoresht-e-Fesenjan (chicken in a pomegranate and walnut sauce.)

    A supermarket in Britain sells a frozen mixture of cubed sweet potatoes, butternut squash and red onion, with a sprinkling of herbs. You already have the makings of this fresh. Just chop, throw in shallow pan, roast.

    My favourite with the Swiss Chard is Potaje de Acelgas

  3. 3 Katie Friday, 20 February, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Thanks for the comments and the recipes!

  4. 4 lissa Monday, 23 February, 2009 at 12:29 am

    i thoroughly enjoyed your latest: the aptly titled, “why the veg box rocks”– it as an entertaining and educational segment on your forays into the world of alternative food networks. perhaps, now that hard times have befallen us all, you could explore another alternative food network in that socialist country of yours- what do the insides of madrid’s dumpsters look like?

  5. 5 Katie Monday, 23 February, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Funny that you ask about the dumpsters. A common sight on the streets of Madrid after the supermarkets close (at about 9pm) is families searching through said supermarkets’ trash containers. They come prepared with their shopping bags on wheels and I’m sure they find perfectly good food thrown out there.

  6. 6 Brendan Monday, 2 March, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Hi sorry to bother you but i read your listings of yoga studios in Madrid and was wondering if you knew of any yoga classes in english. I know I should be able to understand Spanish especially while in Madrid but my Spanish is lacking. My wife here with work and I need to do something constructive during the day besides drink coffee and smoke cuban cigars. We will be arriving on March 7 and staying at the Melia Castilla. I read the map of the city with the yoga locations and saw that the City Yoga would be closest to me but it did not indicate if they had english classes or not.

  7. 8 Mike Tuesday, 3 March, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Are you tension? panic?

  8. 9 ANONIMO Wednesday, 4 March, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Good afternoon, just to inform you;

    Recapte does not grow any organics, tell them to show you their organic production certificate and you’ll see….

    If you have a look in the box it does not says that they are organic fruit and veg it says free of hormones,etc but there is no sanitary or quality control on their products.

    I highly recomend you to try cajanature or cesta verde which grow organics and can show you all the certificates and growers for their products…

    you could call recapte a scam

    • 10 Katie Monday, 9 March, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      @Anónimo: Recapte tells me they don’t use any chemical products, and that’s enough for me. I don’t consider it the most important thing to have some certification, I prefer to trust the people I get my produce from and also to know where it’s coming from (both are true in the case of Recapte). I know Recapte’s produce comes from their fields in Aragón, Lleida, and Valencia and that’s great. It’s definitely not a scam.

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