Food Delivery Schemes + Broiled Grapefruit

For the past week, I’ve been sort of stranded. And I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten so well.

See, seven days ago, I relocated to my sister and brother-in-law’s place in the suburbs to kitty-sit while they adventured south. Not long after I settled in, winter showed up, four months late but in full force, making the treadless tires that I’ve put off replacing for months — because the roads are fine, Dad — essentially useless. And with the closest grocery store not close at all (remember: suburbs), I would have been left to rely on nonperishables and eat — happily, but not healthily — pancakes all week. Would have.

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Fortunately, my hosts are part of the growing group of people that subscribe to a food delivery system. Here’s the basic idea: In exchange for a set number of dollars, hard-working folks will bring great food — typically boasting at least one label from the feel-good trifecta of local, organic and fair trade — from their central distribution centre to your doorstep on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. While these vegetable box schemes started off by focusing on fresh produce, nowadays it’s not uncommon to see bread, dairy, eggs, and more (again, of the feel-good variety) offered overtop of fruits and veggies. 

Upload from February 27, 2012

Last week, on the day the delivery was set to arrive, I scurried home from work to find happiness in a waxed cardboard box: fingerling potatoes boasting the prettiest pink sheen, truly orange tangelos, earthy shitakes, the grocery-store-elusive perfect avocado, and so much more.

There was, in one box, enough to last me at least a week. And, with the remnants of my hosts’ last delivery still hanging out in the fridge — multi-coloured carrots and beets, crisp broccoli — alongisde the few supplementary veggies they pick up now and then, it’s by both necessity and enjoyment that I’ve been feasting on produce all week. 

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The recipe below — a tasty way of making a dent in an abundance of citrus — is just one of the many things that’s come out of a surfeit of fresh food; I’ve roasted broccoli with garlic and root vegetables with thyme; I’ve made beet chips, Nicoise salad, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, banana ice cream, and the ultimate veggie pizza. I’ve forgone my requisite morning bowl of oatmeal every day since arriving so that I can eat leftovers for breakfast. 

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In short, then, food delivery systems are an awesome way to fill up your fridge. Whether you’re a city-dweller like me or live, like my parents, in the near-middle of nowhere, chances are there’s a vegetable box scheme within your reach. Of course, the specifics — the price, schedule, quantity, quality, contents, flexibility in choice and overall aim (local, organic, etc.) — will differ with the system. And while it’ll likely cost you a little more than if you were to pick up the same items from your non-organic grocery store, it’ll be for good reason. 

Because the benefits are clear: 

  • It’s beyond easy — food appears like magic (or old-school milk). 
  • It’s super-tasty — if I could share with you one of those colourful carrots, you’d never want to go back to the old grocery-store standbys. And while the quality will vary between items and schemes, have a quick chat with folks who are already signed up and they’ll steer you to the best of the best!
  • It’s fun — Not only is there novelty in having food show up on your door, but the food itself can be novel too — sea beans, anyone?  
  • It encourages you to eat your fruits and veggies. If you’re clever about the way you order, opting for both variety and different degrees of perishability, one installment should keep you eating well for a good while!
  • On top of it all, you get to support environmentally- and socially-conscious agriculture. 

If you’re in Edmonton, check out The Organic Box or The Good Food Box (I have no affiliation or ties to either). Outside of Edmonton: get Googling or ask family, friends and your favourite farmers’ market producers to see if they know of a system. And then get cooking!

Broiled Grapefruit
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Serves 1 — scale up for more!

1 ruby red grapefruit, washed
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 big pinches of ground ginger

Position oven rack close to the top of the oven so that, when you insert the baking dish into the oven, the grapefruit will be within 4 inches of the broiler. Heat broiler to high. 

Cut grapefruit in half horizontally. Loosen each grapefruit segment slightly by running a small, serrated knife between each segment and its surrounding membrane. Place grapefruit halves in a baking dish. 

Upload from February 27, 2012In a small bowl, combine sugar and ginger. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly overtop each grapefruit half. Transfer grapefruits to the top rack of the oven and broil for 5-15 minutes or until tops are beginning to brown. Remove from oven, spoon any juices that have collected in the bottom of the baking dish overtop grapefruit, and serve warm!

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*The grapefruits will be tastiest if the sugary syrup that develops during the broiling process is able to collect in the grapefruit (I realized this after I made the one you see in the photos). With that in mind, once you’ve cut the grapefruit in half, trim the halves a bit so that the centres are slightly lower than the edges. 

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