Foodie or Faddy? Taste Testing Online Food Markets

                                                                                                                                       29 May 2015

We have entered an era of conscious food consumption where those who can afford to be picky are steering away from food that’s pumped up on hormones, battery bred and preserved for months. The people (read upper middle class and hipsters) spoke and they wanted REAL FOOD. One or two little food markets emerged in amongst the trees where the truly health conscious walked amongst the fairies and got seasonal fruit and vegetables on Sundays.  Hipsters got wind of it and suddenly these markets were springing up on rooftops, in nurseries and in commune backyards, selling an array of homemade products. Then the upper middle class and Noaks-followers heard about it from their hipster friends, pulled in with their SUVs and brought the dogs and kids along for the ride.

Naturally, it was time to evolve again. This time it went online and conscious of doing what I can to preserve my family’s good health, but not keen to confuse foodie with faddy, I tried it out.

Timothy & Clover. I quite liked the non-commercial, familial sound of the name, which doesn’t do much to fight the hippie stereotype already created (insert background music here if you’re not sure what I’m talking about).

The “Market” is only open for orders from Mondays at 12pm till Tuesdays 12pm. Once you’ve placed your order of organic vegetables, homemade bread, frozen readymade meals and grass fed, free range meat (sourced from the very foodie Braeside Butchery) it gets delivered on Thursdays and Fridays. Although perhaps not quite the instant convenience online shoppers are used to, it does add some good old “slow living” suspense.

The variety of meat boxes and in particular excited me and amongst their specials was 400g of Vegetable Korma for R29, which sounded very reasonable. The vegetable box for that week included spinach, carrots, fennel, kale, basil, an avocado and lemons. You even get the option of swopping a single item and as I already have a lemon tree, I requested an extra avo in lieu of my lemons.  

So for just under R400 I foraged enough meat and vegetables for two people for four days, one small readymade meal and delivery of R45.  When comparing like-for-like with general grocers the products compare well. Some of the meat products are a little more expensive (about R18 for six mixed size free range eggs in comparison to the jumbo free range eggs I buy in the shop for R15) but then again, these are said to be a better product.

About a day after making the secure online payment I got an SMS advising when delivery would be made with an option to change it if it did not suit me. Finally the day arrived and I unpacked my cardboard box on Friday afternoon after I got to spend the day not-in-the-shops.  The order form had a note on it indicating lemons need to be removed and an avo added. This was a good start, but unfortunately when I unpacked it I found only one avo and three neatly packaged lemons. This isn’t something I would hold against them though, as I’m sure had I taken the effort to mention it again they would have apologised.

Fresh kale salad, boiled kale and lentils,
kale in curry...
All the fresh products are very neatly packaged in crisp, fresh sounding biodegradable bags that you are meant to add to your compost heap. That’s great, only I don’t have a compost heap, but I do recycle plastic and paper…

Another thing I don’t quite have a use for is kale. I know it’s good for you and all of that, but nobody is really keen to finish a bag of spinach and kale in one week.

As we already had weekend plans I unfortunately had to freeze some of the fresh meat, and have only used two portions – chicken supreme and beef mince. Both tasted good and the chicken, although having a little bit of that free range chicken taste, was juicy, tasty and beautifully cut.  (Supreme here refers to the cut with the wing bone attached and not the spinach stuffed, saucy dish.) The pork cubes will turn into Sweet and Sour Pork tonight.

All in all I may well use them for meat again, but I like to go to Food Lovers Market and choose my own vegetables based on what looks good and what I’ve got planned for the week. They too do not have any dust, dogs, hippies or hipsters; have great prices and someone once told me their fresh stuff goes off quicker because it’s not pumped full of preservatives.

There are a couple of other groups who do something similar: Munching Mongoose, Jozi Real Food Revolution and Gourmet Butcher. Getting your real and really good food online certainly does seem to be the way we are heading and I’m not entirely opposed to it.

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