Newest Review: ... a little less than my local supermarkets but one or two items I can definitely buy cheaper. After looking at the dairy/dairy alternatives,... more
Plenty of mud, but no pesticides...
Abel & Cole Organics
Member Name: EdibleDormouse
Abel & Cole Organics
Advantages: Still feel like a small and friendly firm
Disadvantages: Few and minor
Fast forward to 2008, and a move to South East London. On the day I move in, what do I spy but a slick, beautifully branded, Abel & Cole van delivering to the house opposite. No more knackered Ford Transit for them. A bit of digging found their rather lovely website (www.abelandcole.co.uk), where any foodie can spend hours engaged in organic goodie porn without even placing an order. The website itself is exceptionally user friendly (although my one very, very minor quibble is that you have to remember to actually check your basket out...there's no prompt to do this, and this might be handy).
The online "shop" itself is broken down into sensible sections, so that it's easy to find what you want. The organic fruit and veg boxes (either mixed or separated, depending on what you need) are generous, and you might find that you're frantically chopping up and freezing so as not to waste your goodies. In terms of price comparison, they're a few pence over Tesco and Sainsburys (but hey, a few pence, and it's FREE DELIVERY for a basket over £8), and a few pence under Waitrose. Better still, you can even record your likes and dislikes, so if you find sprouts particularly offensive, then you'll find a substitution of something seasonal that you do like instead.
Where, in my opinion, they really come into their own, is on the more store cupboard orientated items. I confess that I rarely order a fruit and veg box these days, but find the range of speciality breads (I recommend the spelt), cheeses, and tasty tasty (but quite expensive - treat time only) pies and fresh soups irresistible.
I have also been known to waste hours scouring through the "new and seasonal" option, and I'm delighted to note the addition of "New! Halloween" and "New! Christmas" sections on the online shop menu, which will no doubt mean I do no housework and add to middle aged spread on my rear end for the next few weeks.
I've already touched on the fact that delivery is free if your spend is over £8 (easily done) - better still is that they don't require you to be in to accept delivery. This is a mixed blessing, as if you're reliant on a "safe hiding place", then your shopping may go missing (this has only happened to me once), or get somewhat windswept or rain-battered (try to remember to leave a plastic bin bag and a large brick out to cover the boxes!). If you're ordering dairy or other chilled items, they recommend the purchase of a polystyrene cool box from them (£3), although I now seem to be the proud owner of three of these, as they have a tendency to leave the items packed in the cool box they've been despatched in!
And they're avid recyclers - leave your empty boxes ready for them to collect, and they will re-use ad infinitum. Having said that, I have taken the decision for them on occasion, and put particularly tired and muddy boxes out to pasture in my own recycling.
Their customer service is as you might expect from a company like Abel & Cole - friendly, personal, and eager to please. I've only been short on an order once, and the refund was swift and accompanied by a sincere apology.
Your account details are kept securely online, although this might be offputting for those that would rather not keep card details on record with a website. You can also record upcoming holidays on your account details - a hassle free way to ensure your delivery doesn't arrive when you're not around.
Oh, and this review is written in eager anticipation of this week's delivery, turning up any minute now. Spelt bread and cheddar sandwiches for lunch...
Summary: If you can still find occasional organic pennies, Abel & Cole are the best