Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Squeezed Middle

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Squeezed Middle

Article excerpt

Curly stomps up the stairs carrying a large cardboard box. "Madam, your cabbage delivery." I rub my hands together in glee. Thursday morning is one of the high points of my week. It's when the Abel & Cole box arrives, stuffed full of lovely organic tangerines and carrots that taste so definitively much more tangeriney and carroty than the waterlogged, pesticide-stuffed crap from Tesco's.

I am slightly ashamed at how accurately I must fall into Abel & Cole's target demographic. They might have created their brand and merchandising with me specifically in mind. Every week I pore over their brochure, which is filled with obscure British cheeses, recipes for wholesome stews and friendly personalised messages from their farmers, with all the intensity of a stockbroker checking the FTSE 100.

Needless to say, Curly finds the whole thing ridiculous. "Eighteen quid for a load of cabbage!" he sneers, choosing to ignore the plump, fragrant tomatoes, the delicate fronds of purple sprouting broccoli. "You could get this lot down the market for two-fifty."

Admittedly there is often a lot of cabbage in the box, especially during the winter months. At one point I opened our fridge and counted five different varieties, some curly, some floppy, some green, some purple. Fortunately I've discovered that cabbage is a surprisingly versatile vegetable if you really set your mind to it. I just wish at least one other member of my family would agree to eat the bloody stuff. …

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