One of the great things about my life in Michigan was that I had different co-ops set up, I knew which farmers my milk & eggs came from, I knew where the best places were to buy wheat berries, and my routine was pretty set. We didn’t have the expendable cash for a CSA membership (they were running the better part of $600 for the year when I last priced them), but I had good, reliable produce that either came from my garden or from local growers. It was good and I was comfortable with the routine.
Fast forward to now – I have no routines when I move to Arizona. I understand that much of this is to be expected and will take time to establish, but honestly – it’s a little unnerving. Of course, I can hit Trader Joe’s and Whole Paycheck Foods, because those stores don’t vary much nationally. But I’d really rather know that my produce IS local rather than hoping it is.
Enter Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op. I had heard it mentioned and found that indeed, it was up & going in my area of Arizona, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the website. I finally had a local friend walk me through it, explaining the ins and outs of the group and site. It’s a western-state based co-op and might be LDS-based, but I can’t swear to that. I know there are many chapters in “Mormon country” (what I call Arizona/Utah/Idaho), but it could be that because many LDS families are larger and this is a good deal and great produce, they take advantage of it. Regardless, its origins have little to do with the benefit to families out this way. The idea is that this group bands together in one large “buying co-op” with local/small farmers and produce distributors, harnessing the power of BIG and getting the freshest produce for its “contributors” (the people who take part in the group) at the lowest prices.
For example, everything you see on my sofa here was $36. Ordinarily, I would have spent $15, but the blueberry flat was worth the $21 pricetag – I’m severely missing all of the blueberry picking at Dexter Blueberry this year with my friends. So, for the sake of my sanity and adjustment to the desert, $21 was an exceedingly good expenditure of cash.
Let’s inventory this, shall we? From the left, I have:
- six ears of corn
- one pound of red grapes
- one pint of blueberries (separate from the 9 pint-flat)
- three peaches
- four pluots
- one head of romaine lettuce
- one head of broccoflower (broccoli-cauliflower hybrid)
- one pineapple
- five pounds of yukon gold potatoes
- two English cucumbers
- one personal-sized watermelon
- five bananas
FOR FIFTEEN DOLLARS, PEOPLE! This is easily a $50 expenditure at the grocery store.
My produce-drawers overfloweth right now and I’m geeked.
The co-op also has different offerings, of which I’ve not partaken, but include 9-grain bread (5 loaves for $10), a bevy of dessert offerings (all without HFCS and hydrogenated fats), etc. I did not know what the basket would contain, and so after being delightfully surprised on Saturday morning (pickup is a 8am for my location), I realized that I’m going to have to monkey around with my menu planning until I can jive the Wednesday-through-Tuesday grocery ads and the BB co-op offerings. I’m willing to step up to that challenge, however, because good, healthy food at a discount is worth it.
If you’re in the western states, check it out and see if there’s a BB pick-up location near you. If there’s not one by you, consider being a facilitator/coordinator! You can find out how here .