The weirdest thing in my CSA box was red russian kale
OOOOBY stands for Out Of Our Own Backyards and is an Auckland-based company that offers Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA has been popular in other countries for years and with the trend towards organic and locally grown foods as well as growing in our own backyards, it is a recipe for success.
Last week, we switched from the vege/fruit original OOOOBY Box to the Vegetable Box. The Vegetable Box costs $8 more than the Original Box but has a hefty amount of vegetables. With double the vegetables, it was too much for two people. We’re both back to working 40 hour weeks at the moment so I’m not eating at home as much. Therefore, we are taking a break from our subscription this week so I’ll take a moment to review OOOOBY’s services so far.
We’ve had three deliveries and tried two different boxes out of their range of four. We tried the Original Box and also the Vegetable Box. We haven’t tried the Fruit Box and Family Box which don’t suit our two-person household.
OOOOBY works on a subscription based system much like a pre-paid tab. You pre-pay four weeks in advance and your tab will run out faster if you make regular Add Ons to your delivery.
I like eating food that is grown around Auckland. I’ve heard of situations where a carrot is grown in Region A, then sent to Region B for sorting and packaging and then redistributed all over the country, including where it began in Region A. It’s not logical. It also makes me wonder how old that sad carrot you see at the supermarket really is. If there is food being grown in your area, it should be your first choice over similar food imported from around the country or worse, from a distant country.
I enjoy eating seasonally. No one needs to eat strawberries in winter. And to be honest, they really don’t hold a candle to seasonal fruit.
I hardly ever buy organic produce at the market due to cost and availability. It’s nice to be able to afford organic produce each week.
Any changes to your Tuesday delivery can be made as long as you get your request in by midnight of the Thursday before. I’ve been emailing changes which I find is most convenient for me (as I can email at crazy out of office hours). I always get an email response in a timely manner to confirm that my request has been noted.
I first thought that Add Ons needed to be made at time of subscription, but you can choose different Add Ons each week. We have only been adding bread at this stage and we’re huge fans of their ciabatta. Its wonderful have a rustic loaf of nice bread delivered every week. Other Add Ons I have my eye on are their fair trade bananas, 100% pure apple juice and fair trade certified organic coffee. If OOOOBY ever decided to add milk to their Add Ons, it would would certainly make it more attractive.
Some weeks you might not need a delivery. Maybe you’re going to be away or you didn’t cook much the week before and have plenty left for the following week. As long as you let OOOOBY know by midnight on Thursday, it’s fine. Putting our subscription on hold for this week was no problem and just took a simple email to organise it.
Amount of food
We found that the Original Box was quite a lot of food for two omnivores but if we ate at home every dinner and a few lunches, we got through it. It took careful planning but I could get used to it. Working out a meal plan has been invaluable. The Original Box would be the perfect amount for 2 adults and 1 or 2 small children. I don’t think it would be enough for a growing family. I would recommend the Family box for a family with hungry kids.
A couple of vegetarians or vegans may find the Original Box more suited to their needs. I think OOOOBY would also be great in a flatting situation where you include the weekly deliveries into your rent and everyone helps themselves or uses the produce for flat meals.
Value for money
The Original Box is great value for money for mostly organic produce and I spend about the same as what I would spend at the grocery shop per week. The Vegetable Box was too many vegetables for us and also didn’t work out to be as good value as the Original Box. It is a new product so perhaps they’ve yet to work out the right balance.
I have allocated rough values for the items in each box to get a better understanding of how much the items cost.
Original Box, Week 1, $27
- 1 Garlic (Self Certified Organic) $1
- 1 Red Skinned Turnip (Self Certified Organic) $1
- 6 Carrots (Conventional Sprays) $2
- 1 Fennel (Certified Organic) $2
- 2 Brown Onions (Certified Organic) $1
- 2 Silverbeet (Certified Organic) $3
- 6 Agria Potatoes (Certified Organic) $3
- 1 large bunch Italian Parsley (Certified Organic) $3
- 6 Newstead Gold Apples (Conventional Sprays) $4
- 3 Mandarins or Naval Oranges (BioGro Certified) $2
- 9 Green Kiwifruit (Certified Organic) $5
Original Box, Week 2, $27
- Half a cauliflower (conventional sprays) $3
- 1 big red kumara (certified organic) $2
- 8 carrots (conventional sprays) $3
- A huge bunch of red russian kale (certified organic) $5
- 7 baby beets (certified organic) $5
- 6 pink lady apples (conventional sprays) $4
- 10 gold kiwifruit (certified organic) $5
Vegetable Box, Week 3, $35
- 2 bulbs of garlic (self certified organic) $3
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (self certified organic) $2
- Half a crown pumpkin (certified organic) $6
- 1 cabbage (conventional sprays) $5
- 7 carrots (conventional sprays) $6
- 2 broccoli (certified organic) $6
- 2 silverbeet (certified organic) $5
- 1 stick of rosemary $2
The convenience factor is a huge plus for us. I’ve been sick for the last 6 weeks and found that even going to the market was hugely draining. I would recommend CSA for anyone who wants to save time or energy from shopping but are capable of cooking meals from scratch every day. This may not suit everyone. The box is delivered in a nondescript, sturdy cardboard box. It arrives sometime during Tuesday day and it’s always been there when I arrive home from work.
You can put up to 3 items on your “do not want” list. If you are picky or have more than 3 things that you don’t like, CSA is not for you. We have only 1 item on our “do not want list” so far: potatoes. It isn’t that we don’t like potatoes, but because we love them so much we bought a 10kg bag.
An email is sent out the previous week, usually on Friday to let you know what to expect on Tuesday’s box. This is great if you plan on doing any shopping in the weekend for your meat and staples.
Two or three recipes are included with every OOOOBY box.
Trying new things
Essentially having someone else do your shopping based on what is in season means that you get to try things you might not normally buy. While I’d love for there to be more exotic items for me to puzzle over, I’m sure that others don’t feel the same. Each week there’s been one or two items that I wouldn’t usually buy and the rest are all considered “safe”. Easy enough to handle. The weirdest things I got each week were red russian kale (pictured above), red skinned turnip and kaffir lime leaves.
We will be continuing with the OOOOBY Original Box for a wee while. Fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, convenience and a good price are all good reasons for us stay on board. Tofu the bunny also approves of OOOOBY Tuesday and he’s really been spoilt with fresh vegetables the last few weeks. He usually eats only the leaves and avoids the stalks. With OOOOBY, Tofu eats both the leaves and the stalks which is equivalent of a two thumbs up.
By the way
I am in no way affiliated with OOOOBY and we paid for our box and add-ons with our own hard earned money. This is a review and not an advertisement. But if you would like to join OOOOBY, contact me about their their refer-a-friend scheme and we’ll get a free loaf of bread each. Your choice of kumara sourdough, ciabatta, mixed grain or even gluten free. Choice!
You can find more about OOOOBY over at their website www.ooooby.org.
Read my other posts about CSA here.