Frequently Asked Questions
Do Vital Veg deliver to my area?
We are based in Aberdeenshire - please use the delivery lookup feature (click on the "New Customer" link at the top of this page) to find out if we deliver to your postcode. If you live outside our delivery area, consider whether we could deliver to your office instead. Or maybe you know someone who might be willing to act as a drop-off point - a relative or friend perhaps? If your postcode is rejected by our delivery lookup and neither of the above two options work for you please give us a call - we might be able to help!
Can Vital Veg deliver my veg even if I am not in?
Yes – you can leave a large box with a lid out for us in a cool place, or an unlocked shed/garage/Wendy house where we can leave the veg out of the weather. Alternatively, maybe there's a neighbour or friend who would be willing to accept your box until you get home.
Why do I have to order in advance from Vital Veg?
We need time to harvest the vegetables, and to order our bought-in produce from other organic growers and our organic wholesaler. Our Packing Angels also need time to pack your bag… Are there any extra charges? We apply a 32p additional charge for debit card transactions, and 2% for credit card transactions. From the week commencing 5th October 2015, there will be no extra charge for paying by card.
Is there a minimum order?
Yes. It's £15.00 for a delivery which includes one of our veg bags, and £40.00 for one which does not include a veg bag. If you would like to order produce which comes to less than £40.00, without a veg bag, please add in "Delivery" as an item from the Shop.
Where does the Vital Veg come from?
We do aim to have as much of our own produce in the boxes as we can, so you get the freshest, most local food possible! However, just because they can do it in the frozen fields of Iceland doesn’t mean we can do it in Midmar… growing Bananas that is…! To solve the problem we buy certified Organic fruit and veg that we can’t grow ourselves from a local organic wholesaler and other organic growers.
How long will my fruit and veg keep?
It depends on what it is and the conditions under which you keep it, and how carefully you handle it. Apart from bananas, most of your veg will keep best in a cool place. As we don't shrink-wrap any of our own veg, and try to avoid buying in any shrink-wrapped produce, you'll need to check that it does not dehydrate while you are storing it. As a rule, if it looks as if it might wilt, then eat it early in the week.
What happens if I receive some bad veg?
Our packers take great care to ensure that no bad veg get into your deliveries, but this does happen occasionally. If you ever receive any veg that you feel is below standard we will happily replace it for you in your next delivery or reduce the price of your order if you let us know as soon as you spot it.
What happens when I am on holiday?
Holidays ... Mmmm … lovely! But what about your delivery? No problem - just let us know by the order deadline how long you’re away for (or update the 'suspend or cancel' section in your online Vital Veg account), and send us a postcard to brighten up our Vital Veg office! You can also choose to donate your delivery to the Cyrenians (a charity for homeless people) if you prefer - just give us a call or an email and we will arrange this for you.
What is “organic”?
Organic food is legally defined and is grown or raised without synthetic fertilisers or pesticides/herbicides or hormones. This is at its most simple ... there's a large book of rules produced by our certification body - the Soil Association - which must be followed to ensure maximum protection for the environment, and that animal welfare is of the highest standard.
Why eat organic?
Chemical free – because organic food is produced without the use of any synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or hormones, you can be sure that you are not eating anything unnatural. Sadly a significant proportion of our “conventional” food these days has been found to be contaminated with chemical residues which often cannot be removed by washing, or even peeling. A non-organic meal of farmed salmon, salad and wholemeal bread for example could contain a cocktail of tens of different chemicals. No-one really knows what this does to us. Do you want to gamble and take the risk?
Taste – organic food is grown more slowly (not hurried along with fertilisers and hormones), and in soil which contains a wide range of available nutrients – so it tends to have more flavour ... and can contain more minerals/vitamins too! Eating organic food is the only way you can be certain of avoiding GM produce - Did you know, for instance, currently, labelling laws in the UK do not require that produce from animals fed on GM needs to be labelled as such. If you're not happy about this, vote with your pound and buy organic ... and write to your MP, supermarkets, and food producers to express your dissatisfaction!
Why is organic food more expensive than “conventional” food?
The organic conversion process takes several years to complete, and usually involves resting the land, and spending years to rebuild the soil structure and natural fertility of the soil through careful husbandry methods. In addition, to maintain fertility and soil health, organic land is rested every few years, rather than being cropped every year without fail. Organic seed is more expensive to buy than conventional seed, extensive records must be kept for inspection by the organic certification bodies (increasing the adminstrative costs), crop losses due to pests / diseases / reduced shelf life mean that wastage can be higher in organic compared with conventional production. Organic food production is also more labour intensive than conventional food, for example, weeding has to be done without the benefit of chemicals - which we think is a benefit to the local community, but it does increase costs significantly. Currently, many of the organic food producers are working on a relatively small scale compared to conventional producers. Once again, this increases costs proportionally.
Is“conventional” food really cheaper than organic?
The price you hand over for organic food might seem more at the time – but did you know that there are hidden costs of intensive non-organic farming that have to be borne by all of us? We all pay three times for intensively farmed food. Firstly, we pay at the shop till. Next, we pay for the same food through our taxes, as modern farming is heavily subsidised through the tax system. Thirdly, we pay again to clean up the damage to the environment caused during the growing and the raising of non-organic food. These clean up costs, particularly treatment of drinking water, are alarming.
How much of the organic food eaten in Britain is produced in Britain?
Depends on what it is… and what time of year it is. Overall, Britain still imports about 80% of the organic produce available. Of course there are some things that we can’t grow in Britain, but a part of the problem is that there aren’t enough organic farmers… How can I be sure that it is really organic? Look to see if the food, or the business supplying the food, is certified by an organic certifying body. In Britain the best known of these is the Soil Association. In Scotland many producers are certified by the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA). These are both excellent certification bodies, and make annual inspections of all organic businesses registered with them. They also make unannounced visits to check that the business is complying with the organic regulations. The inspections are very thorough, and include inspection of all the accounts as well as the physical aspects of the business. If you see one of these certification logos, you can have confidence in your food.
What about organic eggs ... how come supermarket eggs don't taste as fantastic as those we get from Vital Veg?
We think that our eggs taste so good because they come from small, contented flocks of about 200 birds which spend most of their time foraging about outside on grass. They also have shelter provided in the form of bushes and small trees, as well as their hen house. Hens are in fact forest animals, and feel nervous in large open spaces. It might surprise you to know that not all eggs legally sold as organic have come from hens treated like this. Not all organic certification bodies demand the same standards, and there is huge pressure from large companies to reduce the standards required to label food as 'organic'. Fortunately, the Soil Association and SOPA will not give in to these demands, which are an attempt to cut costs, but they also seriously undermine animal welfare. You will not find a certification body with higher standards for animal welfare than the Soil Association or SOPA. If your eggs come from a supermarket (other than Waitrose, who have higher standards for animals and suppliers alike!) they will almost certainly have come from flocks of up to 9,000 birds, with only one third of the perching space compared to a Soil Association hen. Non Soil-Association birds may have clipped beaks (to stop them killing each other in the crowded conditions) and will have been raised non-organically to 16 weeks. Hens in such big houses rarely emerge into the fresh air, since they can't find the way out, and if they do they tend to end up in mud rather than grass. The margins on eggs are so tiny that the pressure for large flocks and economies of scale are huge. The Soil Association recommends flocks of no more than 500 birds, though in some cases it reluctantly approves flocks of up to 2000 birds. Check out the certifying body next time you buy your eggs - you'll see the certification logo marked on the box. Then try a taste test with our eggs vs those from the "Organic Farmers and Growers Association" (grown under EU organic rules) - you really can taste the difference! If you'd like more information, and suggestions on what you can do to improve the lot of organic hens in the UK.