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Normally, I'm the opposite of an internet shopper. To be frank, I can't remember ever buying food online, except as a present to send to a friend. For all I've surfed food home delivery sites and drooled over the product descriptions and pictures, something has always defeated me.
Why haven't I taken up that 'add to basket' offer? Well for starters, there's the stumbling block of having to order more than I really want. Yes, I'd love to try that amazing-sounding blackface lamb from that dedicated farmer up the Cumbrian Fells, but no, my townie freezer can't accommodate half a sheep, let alone a whole one, and I'm not entirely convinced that my household will take kindly to eating wall-to-wall lamb for months.
Not being super-organised, more of a last-minute type who shops spontaneously, often in a rush and under pressure (imminent arrival of extended family/friends, looming feast days and celebrations etcetera), I'm not the sort of person who finds a commitment to taking a weekly box flexible enough. And besides, I'd get a bit bored with having to chomp my way through essentially the same stuff, week after week.
Then there's the trust factor. As a seasoned food writer, I find that for all many foodie websites employ terms like "premium" and "tasty", they are often short on supplying hard facts: critical things like the breed of animal, the variety of a fruit, or the location of a farmer. Before I part with my hard-earned cash- like everyone else these days, I'm increasingly tight-fisted- I need to be certain that I have found an outfit to do business with that broadly shares my understanding of what good food is, in a field-to-fork sort of way, taking in everything from animal welfare and health to the pressing environmental issues of the day.
Once I have psyched myself up to place an order, the slightest glitch with the website will put me off, as will a mounting sense that the ordering method is engineered to manipulate me into buying products that interest me not in the least. I refuse to wade through a clutter. I just want to be able to home in on what I fancy, be furnished with pertinent, informative detail about it that reassures me it's what I'm after, then rapidly proceed to the virtual checkout as quickly as possible and with minimum fuss. Last but not least, I don't want to be stung with previously unannounced charges when I get out my card to pay, thank you very much.
And yet, like everyone who cooks more days than not, I crave the convenience of a food supply coming direct to my door, tailored to my ever-changing whimsical fancies and requirements. And this is what makes Farmison so fresh and useful. It provides a forum for adventurous foodies to sift through some of the finest and best traditionally-produced and artisan foods this county produces, allowing us to cherry pick food from outstanding small producers throughout the UK, and pick up a few brilliant imported foods while we're at it. Be it fresh fruit and vegetables, meat or dairy, offering the ability to select a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. it's easy to experiment with Farmison.
And because Farmison is tuned into the seasons and the rhythm of the food production year, the food it sells changes all the time. So even though it's a virtual shopping place, it has much of the sensual thrill and stimulation you'll find at a traditional fresh produce or farmers' market, where new foods come in stream and invigorate your cooking creativity, just as others disappear for another year.
When my first Farmison boxes arrived, I felt the delight of a child at Christmas, ripping open the presents. It was as though a delicious and highly personalised taster or lots of lovely things I might not otherwise have found had been thoughtfully deposited at my door. I hope that you'll feel that way too when your doorbell rings.