Over 30 years ago Keith Abel made it his mission to share the benefits of organic foods with as many people as possible. Since then the company – Abel & Cole – has grown massively; but has always taken care to stay true to it’s roots (ho ho!). From humble beginnings selling potatoes, Abel & Cole pride themselves on continuously exploring the countryside and discovering a variety of organic, seasonal and wild food that’s extra special.
What do they do?
Where to start… Abel & Cole make it possible for you to enjoy quality, sustainable, organic food delivered straight to your door! Think fabulous fruit, vibrant veggies, delicious dairy produce and pantry essentials packed full of flavour. Their award-winning, locally sourced (where possible) produce is the result of a passion for organic farming and an unquenchable thirst to discover – and deliver – sensational seasonal food.
The Organic Philosophy (A.K.A the beating heart of the company)
To Abel & Cole organic farming means food as it should be, food you can trust, food that doesn’t cost the earth, and food where the animals come first. It is a conscientious way of tending to the land that benefits the environment and the taste! To receive organic certification from the Soil Association a product must be produced using a ‘whole system’ approach. This means the farming and food production methods adhere to stringent agricultural, environmental, food processing and social principles which are legally enforced (unlike common assurances of ‘free-range’ or ‘high-welfare’). Abel & Cole are proud to be bound to a code that underpins the foundations of their business. They ensure all their food is of high quality in sufficient quantity, they work within the natural systems and cycles across all levels of ecosystems, they always treat livestock ethically (by meeting their physiological and behavioural needs) and take care to respect regional, environmental, climatic and geographic differences and practices. All food is minimally processed and they endeavour to maximise transparency with the customer on all processing methods and ingredients.
Much thought has gone (and continually goes) into reducing the carbon footprint of the delivery model. If Abel & Cole followed the same structure as the supermarkets there would be double the number of vans on the road. Instead, deliveries are made once a week on a named day without an allocated time slot (this allows for consecutive deliveries). Drivers are rewarded for their fuel efficiency which has resulted in a reduction in fuel usage by 35,000 gallons between 2011 and 2018. Abel & Cole also pioneered the reuse of old delivery vans…when a vehicle has served the company well and heads off into retirement; the main body is removed, refurbished and mounted onto another new vehicle (resulting in fewer materials going to landfill).
Abel & Cole relentlessly try to ensure they are as environmentally friendly as possible. With £13 billion worth of food wasted every year (2015), the team consciously endeavour to play their part in bringing that figure down. Therefore they have lower cosmetic standards than supermarkets (like humans, it is what is on the inside that counts), their ethical buying practises and close communication with their farmers means that they can forecast orders to encourage farmers not to overproduce, they also market seasonally; if farmers do overproduce there is always a back-up for the glut (boxes, recipe boxes, extras etc). In an attempt to reduce wastage on the production line – all efforts are made to find a home (or tummy) for food that isn’t sold (staff lunches and City Harvest (for soup kitchens and shelters across the capital) are just two of the receivers). The team also get their heads together to think of innovative ways to transform the surplus – their utterly delicious cherry tomato passata is a prime example of reimagining ‘waste’. Any substandard produce is collected by a local pig farmer to ensure nothing goes to landfill.
People and Produce
Abel & Cole are not just about the produce; they are about the people too. As well as cultivating an atmosphere of celebration of, and respect for, the environment – they strive to replicate the same principles in their working environment. Abel & Cole look beyond their own business and out towards the wider community; they donate food to local charities and hospices on a weekly basis and around 15 boxes of organic goodies are donated every month to a variety of raffles, small charities, auctions and other fundraising initiatives. Their not-for-profit ‘Farmer’s Choice’ scheme sells wholesale organic fruits and veggies to schools to sell to parents and teachers – enabling them to put the profits towards new equipment or other fundraising projects. Since June 2010 they have also repaired hundreds of unwanted bicycles from their customers and shipped them to community projects in Ghana.
Recipe for Success
Abel & Cole don’t just provide the ingredients; they are dedicated to helping their customers one step further by putting together healthy, vibrant and delicious meals too. If you want to enjoy their amazing organic produce, but are a little stuck on what to make, they also offer a wonderful weekly range of over 15 new recipes to help inspire you in the kitchen with their ‘Recipe Box’ service. These brilliant boxes also help to reduce food waste as most of the ingredients are sent in pre-portioned amounts – if there are any extras then the talented team offer tips for another super scrummy meal. The recipe cards contain simple step-by-step instructions – with space for you to make your own notes – alongside nutritional information and a heads up for the following week! Any substitutions are explained on handy little cards which, far from being disruptive, encourage you to become more creative and flexible in the kitchen.
The talented team of chefs conjure up their creative recipes with four styles in mind – each offering something a little different. The ‘Light’ meals are all under 500 calories, whilst the ‘Simple’ offers a chance for beginners to enjoy twists on old favourites. If time is of the essence then the ‘Speedy’ recipes are made for you – offering a fabulously flavoursome meal in just 20 minutes, using only seven ingredients and with minimal washing up. If you fancy embarking on a culinary adventure then check out the ‘Foodie’ collection which promises to tantalise your tastebuds with a host of innovative ideas. Whether you’re a fan of meat or fish – or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet – there is sure to be scrumptious recipe to relish!
Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a collection of recipes with the cracking cookbook ‘How To Eat Brilliantly Everyday’ which acts like an ode to seasonal eating. Reading the recipes transports you into the minds of the inspirational farmers, growers and producers as you become immersed (and intrigued) by the power of the planet to provide us with so many magnificent ingredients. Divided into chapters by season (with a brilliant ‘swap chart’ at the very beginning to help you enjoy their delicious dishes throughout the year) this book educates and inspires. Each month has ‘seasonal stars’ to help you plan your weekly menu – followed by a host of irresistible mouthwatering recipes…‘Asparagus Benedict Royale’ is spring on a plate, whilst the ‘Cherry and Amaretto Ripple Ice Cream’ is what dreams are made of during the sunny summer months. Don’t miss the inspired ‘Roast Toffee Apples’ as the colder nights draw in and the glorious amber of Autumn leaves line the country fields; whilst the ‘Dickensian Gammon’ is comfort food at it’s best for the windy winter months. Sign up to their newsletter for weekly seasonal information, check out the website or order a recipe box for heaps of inspiration.
Abel & Cole is a celebration of good quality, organic food. After discovering their food you will be left with an urge to respect the environment and the process of the seasons – to hunt out nature’s bounty and adapt your diet accordingly.
For more information on Abel & Cole please visit: https://www.abelandcole.co.uk
This piece was created for Goupie by Sophie Richmond.