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The health benefits of veg boxes

If you're already a veg box customer then well done, you're already doing the right thing for your health and the health of the planet! Find out what Angela Raffle, Chair of The Farm's Management Committee Member, found out at the 2024 Oxford Real Farming Conference when she met food systems researcher Professor Angelina Sanderson Bellamy whose research backs the benefits of buying your veg box from a Community Supported Agriculture project like ours...

At the 15th ‘Oxford Real Farming Conference’ early this January I met a wonderfully enthusiastic food systems researcher and teacher from the University of the West of England, Professor Angelina Sanderson Bellamy

Angelina led a research project, published in April 2023, comparing people who had recently started receiving home delivered fresh produce from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with people in the same area who shopped in supermarkets. The 113 participants in the study completed semi-structured interviews and kept food diaries. This revealed that household eating patterns amongst the CSA customers were far closer to the 2019 “EAT-Lancet Commission” recommendations, which are about best diets for planetary and human health. When asked whether receiving a vegetable box had changed the way they cook or impacted their diet, one fifth of the CSA participants reported eating more healthily since joining the CSA.

Not only were diets healthier and more planetary friendly, the CSA customers also felt positive about the origin of their vegetables. Other linked benefits included improved mood and mental health from visiting the CSA, connectedness within their community, connection with nature, and a sense of excitement about what they would receive in their veg box. They cooked with produce they would never normally have bought, and made sure they wasted nothing.

By Angela Raffle, Chair at The Community Farm

At present The Community Farm is one of only 179 CSAs in the UK. The researchers highlighted the many positive benefits of CSAs and stressed that government policy could and should give more support for farming that enhances human and planetary health, and builds resilient food supply chains. We agree!

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