Buying produce can be one of the most expensive purchases at your local market. But what if you have the option to buy local (the freshest) and save cash on your produce? The secret is much closer than you may think!
And then there is the question of local vs. organic. Well, in the spirit of all the climate-demise news out there and our love of clean air and area farmers, our family tends to choose local – but double plus if it can be produced locally AND organically! And pad your pocketbook! (Read more about the effects of non-organically farmed produce here.)
One way to promote local, organic and save bucks is to join your local produce cooperative.
Our go-to is BountifulBaskets.org.
This organization cuts out the middle man.
They use a community of volunteers rotating the responsibility of distribution at various locations so that healthy, very fresh produce is accessible to our local communities.
From their website:
“Bountiful Baskets is a group of people who work together for mutual benefit. This is grassroots, all volunteer, no contracts, and no catch. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group pay rock bottom prices on your food. This also means that Bountiful Baskets would not happen without volunteers. If you are interested in the Bountiful Baskets continuing, please volunteer occasionally. All it takes is a little time, energy and a smile.”-Bountifulbaskets.org
As a volunteer you just show up an hour early before a scheduled pick-up time to help sort the produce from the truck. Or you can stay a little bit after to help break down the boxes. That is very little to ask given the cost and benefit of what’s received. And they only ask that you volunteer from time to time.
The real effort comes from the volunteer site coordinators who put forth the effort to manage a location’s truck arrival, as well as the number of “baskets” ordered plus “add-ons,” ultimately ensuring each individual gets the right package. Other than the cardboard boxes the bulk produce arrives in and the emissions from the truck, it creates very little waste. You bring your own reusable bags, bins or try to use the boxes left over from the produce and take them home to recycle on your own.
The produce is as fresh as it gets.
If you can’t find a Bountiful Baskets location near you, then be a community produce pioneer and start one. Imagine the connections you can make with all your friendliest neighbors, and the shared health and financial well-being you can promote together.
Check to see if Bountiful Baskets is available in your state, and if so your hometown! https://contributions2.bountifulbaskets.org/
On the flip side, there is the question of companies like Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce that claim to deliver food at a drastically reduced price (that would otherwise be thrown out to rot), right to your door. I saw an acquaintance posting all about it on social media thinking, this is too easy! There’s got to be some catch.
This article from the New Republic lays out all the dirty details about where the produce comes from, where it originally went before the launch of the companies, the problem of overproduction in big agriculture, and how they compound the problem.
They may be claiming to save water and CO2, but in the long run, they are still overproducing. And they never really created a fix for communities going hungry in the first place.
When it comes down to it, a little added elbow grease from your own community cooperative is much more trustworthy than a speedy, doorstep delivery from something that can’t be easily or locally sourced. In the long run, volunteerism and going local saves cash while strengthening our communities in a much more direct way.