Pros & Cons: A Food Co-op

Some women just love to shop. They love to shop for clothes, housewares and even groceries! I am not one of those women. I’ll admit that I love the occasional antique shopping trip. (I loooove old things!) But I’ve always labelled the mall as an energy-vampire and I dread walking into most super-markets.

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Meal planning, organized lists and experimenting with new recipes have all made my bimonthly grocery trips slightly more enjoyable. But still…there are so many other things I could be doing! Then I discovered this magical thing called (drum roll please)…a food co-op.

My friend Darcy always has this fruit bowl with unique varieties in it. She was also serving interesting greens in her salads and had such a colorful table of foods when I’ve been over for dinner. Finally one day a group of Bible study attendees were trying to figure out exactly what one of her fruits or veggies was and somebody asked, “Where did you get this?” She responded with two words that have changed my life: “It was in my Bountiful Basket.”

Huh? I thought she had gotten a fruit basket gift from someone, so after a few weeks of more cool fruit I asked her what a Bountiful Basket was. She explained that it was a food co-op.

A food co-op is generally a member owned but definitely member-funded grocery “store”. In the case of Bountiful Baskets however, there’s no actual store-front. You pay for a basket of fruits and vegetables. All of the money you pay goes straight to buying the produce. Because of this there is a (very small) processing fee as well. You reserve a basket at a particular pick up place and time.

The Pros and Cons: 

-Unfortunately, you generally don’t know what will be in your basket until you get it. This makes meal planning difficult (or fun if your a glass half-full type :) and unpredictable.

+On the plus side, you can add on whole grain bread, granola or extra veggies.

+You can upgrade to an organic basket. (I love this feature. This way I don’t have to stand in line with my fingers crossed that I don’t end up with a bin full of dirty dozen produce.)

-Odd distribution places and pick-up times. At least in my county, I can’t really line up a regular grocery trip with my basket pick up. the pick up times are early in the morning (I would have to take my basket home to keep it fresh since I live in a rural community) and at places like a hardware store at the (complete opposite) edge of town or the masonic temple.

+I save my self time, energy and lots of money at the grocery store!!!

-You usually have to bring your own basket, but this doesn’t seem like a big deal to me!

Overall, I  think it’s awesome! Check out bountifulbaskets.org or search for other food co-ops serving your area.

Do you have other local initiatives to save people time and money in your community?

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