Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Have You Tried a Local Produce Co-op Lately?

It's been another hectic week and my fridge is becoming bare. No need to stress though because I have a delivery coming. Produce in a box. Right to my door step.  Between bulk purchases of grains, sugars, beans and beef there is becoming less of a need to frequent the local grocery stores.  However, when my schedule and route permits I may choose to pick up my box to save on delivery.

I have noticed that whether it be through Facebook, friends, or Groupon, companies that are willing to drop produce at your doorstep seem to be springing up all over the place.  Over the years I have tried out 3 different companies and have been relatively pleased with all 3 for different reasons. The decision to switch was either due to availability or schedule conflicts.

My orders vary from week to week depending on our needs and schedule. Here is an example of a small, mostly veggie that I ordered, which contained collards, broccoli, red pepper, avocado, mushrooms, garlic, one pear and 3 clementines. It was $20.

I loved the red pepper and ate them raw as a snack!

Here is another small, mostly vegetable order with some extras. Each week they post what, if any, extras that will be available.  I had a great deal this week with an extra bunch of carrots for $1. The avocados were on sale as well.  This box also had chard, red leaf lettuce, sweet potatoes, and giant portabello mushrooms. (Snagging a few extra goodies at a low cost is a benefit of picking up.) By the way, I also use the carrot tops in smoothies!

One box had beautiful rainbow carrots that I thought were fun. They pretty much tasted the same, but the boys enjoyed the variety in their lunches just the same.




VEGGIE TIP OR TWO

*Once another member told me that she peels her sweet potatoes, slices them up like carrot sticks and then puts them in a container with a little water for snacking.  I tried it for myself and loved it. Tastes very similar to a carrot only a little sweeter.

*If your pears are not ripe keep them out of the refrigerator, or they will not ripen.

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So if you have been thinking about trying out a co-op of some sort here are some lessons that I have learned when it comes to a co-op and using up the produce therein:

  1. It tastes GREAT! The produce dropped at your door IS fresh.  Many co-ops order as much as they can from local farms, so some weeks I am receiving produce that was picked the day before as opposed to weeks before. 
  2. If organic is important to you, you will find the prices to be reasonable. At first I did not think so, but after a couple of months I realized this did work well. I always have produce on hand so I'm not running to the store as often. On the weeks that I did not place an order, I felt frustrated store hopping, looking for organic, fresh produce at prices I can afford. (**Note: My family does not eat all organic. I try to follow the dirty dozen rule of thumb and even consider this when making my weekly selections with the co-op to save money. For this year's list click on this link.)
  3. There are several that do not require a commitment and allow you to order "on demand". This may work best with those with a hectic lifestyle (if you don't please share your secret!).
  4. Fruit tends to be more costly, so if you want more bang for your buck order mostly veggies on the weeks where the mostly expensive choices are offered (strawberries, blueberries, etc).
  5. Don't want to pay full price for delivery? See if a close by friend would be interested in "partnering" with you by alternating your homes for delivery.  Some co-ops have a pick up schedule, which may work for you if you are local. This would be another opportunity to share with a close-by friend.
  6. Many co-ops offer discounts to groups of 5 or more. This would be a great way to save money while building community - more excuses to see each other.  
  7. Some companies allow you to substitute items when you are not a fan of a particular selection. For example, I am the only member of my family that enjoys eggplant so I usually choose to double up on the apples or some other fruit of choice and forgo the purple offender.  
  8. I would recommend ordering consistently for at least 3 to 4 weeks to really get an idea as to whether or not it will be beneficial to you. Using a variety of fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis may require adjusting for some. Note: Soups are a great way to use and get the whole family eating much of the selection that gets dropped at your door (chard, kale, peppers, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc).  
  9. If you don't already, roast and saute veggies more. I even threw in small, chopped bits of chard into my pan of sauteed veggies from this week's order.
  10. Did I mention it tastes GREAT??

Family Size Box 
Well, I have already written a novel here on produce so I will close by saying that I fully understand that not everyone gets excited over fresh veggies so something like this may not work for you. (#notjudging) However, if you do, I believe that a co-op may help simplify your life and even push you to eat a variety of whole foods, while eliminating some of the processed options. That's always a good thing!

For those of you who are local, I will share the two companies that I use.

Big Organic Garden (they offer pick up or delivery)
Fresh Harvest Delivered (delivery only - be sure to put in my name to get us both a 50% off discount on the first order - message me if you need any of my info)

Phew! That was work. Let me go hunt for outfit inspirations. Less work. More fun.

Chrissy

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this Chrissy, even though it was alot of work! Thanks for the helpful tips!

    ReplyDelete