Abi Barragry: Who knew it grew in Sheffield?

As part of this month's theme - 'you are what you eat' - Abi gets munching on some Sheffield grown veg from local co-op Regather. Check the end of the story for advice on how to get your hands on cheap veg.

After hearing the word bounced around here and thrown into conversation there, I finally decided to bite the carrot and sign up to a veg box. What’s the worst that could happen? Being an avid fan of Regather since its inception a couple of years ago (ish?); enjoying their film screenings, beer tasting and general sense of community spirit; they were my obvious choice. Gareth, one of the directors, has always been more than helpful and on bumping into him and his veg boxes at Sharrow market one fine summer’s day (I know, now just a warm and distant memory), I decided to take the plunge. Little did I know I was in for a huge education on what real veg is.

In my first box, which was conveniently left on my back doorstep tucked away for when I got home, I barely recognised anything inside. What’s that hairy thing? Why are my carrots purple and white? Why is that courgette the size of my leg? Well, as I was soon to find out, the vegetables we get in the supermarkets are all imposters! They’ve been airbrushed to within an inch of their life and as a result are self-conscious and sad that they weren’t good enough ‘just as they are’, which has made them flavourless and dull. These perfectly formed cucumbers in the shops have not been free to express who they really are and have lost their essence.

Anyway, since summer, I have been introduced to the celeriac, kohlrabi, fennel, rainbow carrots, rainbow chard, Jerusalem artichoke (not an artichoke, as the name would have you believe), Chioggia beetroot and salad leaves which blow your head off with spicy, mustardy, herby flavour. The vegetables arrive dirty and all sizes and shapes. I lovingly clean them up and look at the recipe that has been sent with that day’s box.

It’s not the cheapest way to eat vegetables, but these are being grown by a human hand and loving care at places like Wortley Walled Garden. And they come right to your door every week or fortnight. I’ve eaten a lot of carrots in my time, but never such carroty tasting carrots.

If you’re looking for a way to nurture yourself this 2017 and get oddly excited by the element of surprise (what’s it gonna be this week???) then I highly recommend signing up to a veg box. Happy eating everyone, I’m off to Dauphinoise these potatoes!

You can find out more about these veg boxes on the Regather website. If you’re looking for cheaper options head down to a local market like the ones at the Moor, where prices are likely to be lower than in supermarkets (Saturday is usually clearance day, where you can get things even cheaper). It’s always better value to buy vegetables in season and in bulk.

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