This is a sponsored post of the best kind: Front Door Organics is a company I have personally been supporting since long before I was blogging. I’m thrilled to be introducing a monthly post here which will highlight different aspects of the business of local/ organic food delivery.
Our household has been receiving deliveries of Front Door Organics “Fresh Boxes” for about eight years now. Every fortnight or week (we choose), on Friday mornings, we leave our blue Rubbermaid bin on the front porch and when we get home from work, it’s filled with lovely fresh, seasonal produce (and other groceries if we choose). It’s like a birthday every week!
I can’t even remember when exactly we started receiving deliveries (but according to the folks at FDO, we are “long term” customers) though I vaguely remember receiving the flyer in our mail (the company started out, very small, in our neighbourhood so I guess we were amongst the first wave of subscribers) and Neil and I wondered whether we should try it. Admittedly, I believe it was me who argued that we didn’t “need it” while Neil suggested it might be an easy way to make sure we were eating more local produce and that we might even learn to cook a few new things along the way. Remember – this was pre-blogging, so, while I did cook, it probably wasn’t with the frequency (or scale) of my culinary action today and I do remember worrying about receiving items I didn’t know how to cook with…
Despite a little bit of skepticism (from me, I will admit), we went ahead and ordered our first Fresh Box and honestly, we haven’t looked back since.
1. It’s easy to use.
I am all about ease of use when it comes to ordering anything (especially food) online. We’d been using Grocery Gateway for our (mostly non-produce) groceries since 2000 and I loved how simple their interface was. Front Door Organics had some big shoes to fill but they managed admirably (and then some). I love the fact that there are so many different types of box to choose from (depending on how many people are in your family, whether you want the produce strictly from Ontario, if you’re after juicing ingredients etc..) and you are free to switch up your box whenever you choose. I also loved the “Preferences” section where you get to tell them if you LOVE an item, feel NEUTRAL about it or NEVER want it sent in your box – and interestingly, last night I went back to see which the items I told FDO to NEVER send – I haven’t touched the list for years and years and was surprised to see some of my now-favourites on there – sunchokes, rhubarb, grapefruit, turnips – oh how I have changed (or my recipe repertoire has!). If you really don’t want to leave the items in the box to chance (which is the most fun option!), you can pay $2 to customise the box each week. Options for everyone, depending on how in control you want to be!
2. A Fresh Box makes it easy to “eat seasonal”.
If you have a great Farmers’ Market close to you (as we do), it’s a wonderful way to make sure you are eating what’s in season. If it’s not there, it’s probably not available. But realistically, not everyone has the time to get to a Farmers’ Market every week – and not everyone has a market closeby. The Fresh Box (especially if you leave it to chance i.e. you don’t customise) really is a great way to ensure you are eating what’s in season locally – and it might surprise you. We’ve been through phases where we didn’t customise and selected the Go Ontario! Fresh Box which, in the winter months, can be, well, interesting. Not to say we didn’t supplement our produce with other fruits because we did, but it really was fascinating to see what was available and made for some frantic Googling (“Creative turnip recipes”). It does force you, in the nicest possible way, to cook with what’s available and it’s really helped me stretch my repertoire of recipes. Each box does include some recipe ideas for the week’s ingredients which I have found helpful too.
3. A Fresh Box makes it easy to “eat local”.
If it’s local produce you are interested in, FDO has you covered. They have buying commitments and longstanding relationships with around a dozen organic Ontario farms and suppliers including:
Dolway Organic Garden (London, ON)
Timothy Stoll (Kawartha, ON)
Feast of Fields (Lincoln, ON)
The New Farm (Creemore, ON)
Cookstown Greens (Cookstown, ON)
Toronto Sprouts for Life (Toronto)
Plan B Farms (Hamilton, ON)
Derek & Marie Brouwer (Sheffield, ON)
The Pfennings, (Baden, ON)
Blueberry Hill Farm (Rodney, ON)
HOPE (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON)
Everdale ELC (Guelph, ON)
Nature’s Way Organic (Walsingham, ON)
Earth Haven Farm (Thomasburg, ON)
Tansy Orchard (Nottawasaga Bay, ON)
Avalon Orchard (Innisfil, ON)
Hockley Valley Honey (Hockley Valley, ON)
If you can’t get to the farm or the local farmers’ market, FDO brings them to you! (Note that they also offer certified organic produce from outside Canada although they will not purchase any fruits or vegetables that travel by air at any point during their journey to the warehouse, because of the high carbon emissions and other environmental costs associated with air freighting highly perishable items like produce).
4. You always know what you are getting and where it’s coming from.
I love that produce in the online store is labelled according to where it’s grown, if it’s been certified organic etc… I will always try to choose Ontario produce first but if it’s not possible I like that I have the choice between a number of other designations:
‘ON’ – grown in Ontario
‘CAN’ – grown in another Canadian province
‘Wild – not certified’ – foraged Ontario wild edible plants
‘Transitional – not certified’ – harvested from farmland in the process of becoming certified organic
‘Reclaimed – not certified’ – grown organically and harvested from fallow farmland
‘Fair Trade’ – bought and sold within the guidelines outlined by FLO (Fairtrade International) including agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards.
‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ – a product that has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance as set out by the Non-GMO Projects Verification program.
*** On the topic of GMOs, Front Door Organics says:
“We recognize that consumers expect certified organic products to be free of GMOs, and FDO is endeavoring to meet that expectation to the best of our ability. Every manufacturer producing products containing GMO risk ingredients (corn, soy, canola, sugar, and their derivatives), has been contacted and urged to submit their product to the Non-GMO Project Verification program. Any product that is enrolled in this program is labelled ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ in our online store. For those products that we carry that are not enrolled in the program, we have been satisfied by our own inquires that the manufacturer is practicing thorough GMO avoidance practices in their processing. For any inquiry that we make surrounding risk ingredients that we find to be unsatisfactory, that product will be de-listed or not listed at all. In lieu of mandatory GMO labelling in North America and in light of the contaminating nature of GMO crops, the Non-GMO Project Verification protects the credibility of the manufacturer, the retailer, and the organic foods industry as a whole, and provides the consumer with the informed choice they deserve.” (read more about Front Door Organics’ GMO Action Plan here).
5. Buying a Fresh Box helps support the local economy.
Front Door Organics has been around since 1997 (they are one of the first and one the longest surviving organic delivery services in Toronto!) and has worked hard to build strong relationships with local farms and distributors, often working closely with specific farms in planning the upcoming Ontario growing season. Communication, crop planning and buying commitments are examples of some of the ways FDO invests in local agriculture. They also supports Ontario organic farmers’ right to fair wages and working conditions, paying the farmer on time and at the prices they see as fair for their products. Going online to order a Fresh Box full of ingredients you’d be buying elsewhere anyway is a really easy way to support our local farming communities and economy.
So, how about it? Want to give a Fresh Box a try?
Are you interested in trying out a Front Door Organics Fresh Box? Now through the end of September, use the promo code “FALL SAVER” at checkout for 25% off your first Fresh Box delivery (offer valid for new and resuming accounts). So go on, give it a try (and let me know if you do!).
Disclosure: I have been compensated in kind by Front Door Organics in exchange for a monthly post and for sharing my weekly deliveries on social media (which, quite frankly, I do anyway!). I have not received financial compensation for these posts and they have not been reviewed by Front Door Organics prior to publication. All opinions are my own (and, well, I’ve been using the delivery service since around 2007 so I can vouch for it!).