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Leading the veg revolution

First they ignore you…Then they laugh at you, then fight you, then imitate you, and finally they claim it was their idea all along. So goes the homily on change.

When the first organic veg boxes were delivered by us freaks on the fringe 35 years ago, plant-based eating and climate change were the concerns of a tiny, far-sighted minority. Now, food delivery has caught the attention of the venture capitalists, all hoping to catch the wave of new shopping and eating habits and environmental awakening.

The dust is starting to settle on a turbulent 15 months. In that time, home delivery of food, consideration of its environmental impact, and agricultural policy have all evolved rapidly. We must decide where Riverford fits into the larger waters we now swim in; how to stay honest ourselves, and drive honesty in those around us.

The Veg Revolution

Organic veg is what we do best, and always will be. More than ever, we believe veg has the power to inspire real, bold change: through what we grow, how we grow it, and how you cook and eat it. Here is a glimpse of how we see our future:

- Helping you continue to cook and enjoy veg in revolutionary new ways. From the best tasting veg in every box, to more unique varieties, new recipes, and creative cooking kits to inspire veg-based meals. Seasonal vegetables will be at the heart of every plate.

- Removing waste from your kitchen. Look out for more pioneering packaging (patent free, because we want other companies to use it too), and low plastic recipe boxes.

- Localising and decarbonising your food. As part of this broad project, we have already launched a small 100% UK Veg Box. In the next several years, better storage and more polytunnels will widen our range of UK veg and reduce imports year round.

A considered route to carbon neutral. First and foremost, we will reduce emissions in all areas, however unglamorous (from electric vans to refrigerant gas). What we cannot avoid, we will offset using UK nature-based solutions that aid biodiversity.

- Inspiring others by proving that business can be a force for good, even as we grow. We will pay the voluntary living wage from this autumn, and continue to share profits (and decisions) with the employees who collectively own 77 per cent of Riverford.

These changes are grounded in your kitchen; so, thank you. This is what the veg revolution is about – and you will soon start to see us talking more loudly about it.

    Comments

    perigordon

    3 Months 2 Weeks

    Thank you for your article this week. It's so encouraging to read how good business can go hand in hand with good practice in terms of health of all and everything.

    0 Reply

    anthony roper

    3 Months 2 Weeks

    Politian's often talk about raising standards, but in practice, particularly with regard to food, the standards are often driven down.
    Producing good food to nourish people needs to be our main objective. This is where organic has a part to play. Especially the way it is packaged. If I happen to go into a supermarket to buy organic food I'm confronted by the inevitable plastic. Riverford is so far ahead of the field they are out of sight.

    0 Reply

    Walrus

    2 Months

    Sorry, a little bit late with this one - too many emails etc and too little time - if I were to read it all it would take most of the 27 hour day we don't have! Yes I know I could ditch what what I don't want but having got into the habit of reading everything (part of an old job before I retired - you couldn't comment on things if you weren't aware of all the facts) but that's besides the point.

    To all the "Riverford Freaks" out there - Praise be to all the Gods of all the Religions out there and the non Gods of the ones that don't use such things - that you did and still do! OK it's taken time but in creating changes slow grinds small! Keep up the good work and from me at least (I suspect there might be several million more as well) Thank You!

    0 Reply

    Guy Singh-Watson

    Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 80,000 customers a week. Tired of meetings, brands and the assumption that greed is our predominant motivation, Guy converted the business to employee ownership in 2018, using the proceeds to buy a small farm and return to growing organic vegetables. In common with many of Riverford’s new co-owners, Guy is an advocate of using business to shape a part of the world, however small, to be kinder, more considerate and sustainable; more like the world most of us want to live in.  His weekly newsletters connect people to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about.

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    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

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