Why Mud is Good

Last year we did a survey of veg box customers to find out what you love and what we can improve on in 2020. One of the most frequent requests was for clean veg or something in the bottom of boxes to stop mud falling out. I get this. I am a veg box customer myself and I know in root veg season things can get a bit messy.

However, there are lots of reasons why mud is good and I’m afraid we have no intention of cleaning our veg. In fact I am going to try to make you love the mud and hopefully even be grateful for it.

“The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of it all” Wendell Berry

The main reason we should all embrace dirty veg is that they stay fresh for longer. That’s the number one reason we don’t clean it and never will. Root veg with mud on keep their moisture inside which means they are fresher and tastier when you eat them. They can be stored at room temperature so there’s a reduction in the need for refrigeration. This is a win win.

If you buy a carrot from a supermarket it would be bright orange and look perfect but what you can’t see is the work (and waste) that happened to make it that way. Years ago supermarkets noticed that customers will choose clean perfect veg, given the option between that and what they now call “wonky” veg.

The results of this have been well documented in terms of food waste but there is also the matter of the water waste, electricity and chemical use to get the carrot clean & to your house in an edible condition. To make sure vegetables and fruits are shiny clean most large producers use chlorine and lots of water and sometimes even chemical cosmetics to cover bruises and blemishes. Once they have been packaged in plastic and stored (sometimes for months) and transported in refrigerated vans this adds up to a lot of unnecessary use of our planet’s precious resources.

Mud is nature’s preservative. We don’t clean vegetables before we sell them because it is better for the vegetable and better for the environment.

Mud is the base of life, it keeps all those vitamins in your veg and it is packed with life-giving microorganisms (especially when it is organic). We only sell organic vegetables, grown with care and love on land where the soil is alive. We believe organic farming respects the land and ensures the soil will be fertile for generations to come. This type of farming concentrates on building soil not exploiting it. It took millennia to build the topsoil which sustains us so we want to make sure it is not wasted but respected.

I actually enjoy cleaning my vegetables. The smell of the earth is not something I get to enjoy often enough. It wakes up my senses and alerts my tastebuds to the arrival of delicious food. I know mud in your box can feel like a big inconvenience but I feel it is one which is worth it & I hope I have persuaded you too.

Our top tips for storing & cleaning dirty root veg

  • Don’t clean the veg until you’re about to use it
  • Store in a cool, dry place. There are some great cotton produce bags around which do the job perfectly
  • No need to refrigerate
  • Scrape any lumps of mud off & put into your garden
  • Soak in cool water for a few minutes then scrub
  • Use a tough vegetable brush made from natural fibres (we sell them in the veg box shop)
  • There’s no need to peel if the skin is ok

We have tips for storing all your vegetables and fruit on this page. If you have any questions please email the veg box team subscribers@glasgowlocavore.org