I’d like to introduce you all to a concept that many people already know about: Co-ops.
Is it sad that I’m a dietitian and had never heard of these before? Yes. But thanks to a fellow RD at work, I’m now a little wiser and know about these wonderful resources.
What is a food co-op?
Simply put, a volunteer organization that comes together and pools their resources to buy from a co-op food distributor. There are different set-ups, but essentially you pay the co-op and they pool everyone’s money to buy fresh produce and other items. Some co-ops require a subscription set-up where you pay for the year and then pay per basket that you are to pick up every week or so. The one I am now using is a bit different. You pay a one-time $3 fee to be part of the co-op. Then, you only order a basket on the weeks that you’d like. That way, if you don’t need produce, are going out of town, etc etc, you don’t have to pay for a basket you won’t be able to pick up.
Now, there are natural food co-ops, co-ops that support local farmers, and those that come together to purchase from larger distributor that may not be local and may not be organic. If you have specific preferences, make sure the co-op you choose is in line with what you’re wanting.
What co-op did I try?
Bountiful Baskets. A BIG thank you to my mom and a co-worker of hers that suggested it to me!
Their website: http://www.bountifulbaskets.org
In this co-op, you pay a one time $3 fee when you order your first basket. Then, you get on their website at the beginning of each week to order a basket when you need/want one. A group of volunteers get together the following Friday or Saturday, receive the produce, and distribute it to all of the baskets that were ordered for that particular location. They put it in plastic laundry bins, you choose your basket, and put your produce into a box or re-usable bags that you bring. Then they can reuse the laundry bins every week.
In this co-op, you can choose whether you want a regular basket ($15) or a 100% organic basket ($25). I chose the regular to test it out at first. Will try the organic basket next time.
For me, this was the perfect opportunity to see if this would be an economical option for some of the families I work with (for those that don’t know, I’m a pediatric RD). I thought it’d be a great way to save on fresh produce!
So, what did I get?!?!
- Fruits: 1 lb strawberries, 6 tangelos, 8 little apples, 6 bananas
- Vegetables: 10.5oz cherry tomatoes (yes, I’m aware these are technically a fruit), 8oz mushrooms, 3 large zucchini, lettuce, asparagus, celery, and a baggie of little peppers that I’m trying to figure out what to do with.
Verdict? LOVED IT!! It’s wonderful to get this produce for a decent price, not have to pick it up and waste a bunch of plastic baggies at the store, and it is a HUGE time saver! Think about it: If you do this, it will drastically cut down your grocery store time.
I encourage you to find a co-op in your area that works for you. Great way to supplement a healthy lifestyle and ensure fresh fruits and veggies are a part of your day!
Have you ever participated in one? Share your experience and the name of the co-op!!