Last time I mention Bountiful Baskets. But I thought they deserved their own thread.
Bountiful Baskets is a produce co-op that was started in Arizona. It has since expanded to Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. If you live in these states and aren’t participating, you’re missing out.
Here’s how I describe the process.
Bountiful Baskets is a food co-op. That means, all volunteer drive, no employees, and thus, no overhead. Tanya and Sally (who run it) collect money from people, and then go buy produce. That produce is split among those that contributed. Doesn’t sound that amazing yet, does it?
Well, if I go to the store, carrots cost me $3 a bag. But, if 10,000 people each contribute $16, that’s $160,000. You show up to a produce distributor with $160,000 in your pocket, and you get a lot more buying power at lower prices. So that’s basically it. You pay $16.50 every other Tuesday (or every Tuesday if you’re really dedicated) and Sally and Tanya combine everyone’s money, and buy truck loads of produce. On Saturday morning, those trucks head to per-determined meeting places, which are usually parks. Volunteers arrive, and start to sort and distribute the produce. From there it’s basic math. If they t 160 bananas, and there are 20 people at the site, each basket gets 8 bananas. If there are 300 apples, and 20 people, each basket gets 15 apples. And so on. Any remainders (meant both in math, and literally) go split between the volunteers. Seems fair since they donated an hour to save me some money.
Each basket is a bout a 50/50 mix of fruits and veggies (+/- 5%). An average basket has about $35-50 worth of produce. Yes, I’ve received up to $50 worth of produce by paying $16.50 for it. Each basket has a fine assortment of average, and frequently used fruits and veggies (apples, oranges, pears, bananas, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, mushrooms, celery, etc). Each week there is what I like to call the surprise, or curve ball item. Kumquats, Persimmon, Guava, Blackberries, Pineapple, Brussels Sprouts. One thing that makes you go, Hmmm…Never had this before. Might have to look up a recipe.
Here’s the caveat. You have no choice in what you get. Sally and Tanya do all the shopping. You shop up with a laundry basket, cooler, or re-usable grocery bags and haul it off. There’s no choice, and no selection. The draw back to that is, I hate celery. I get celery a lot. Other’s don’t care for certain items, that they get. My mom’s complaint is that she had way to much lettuce after a month of baskets. The bonus to that system is this. You have no choice, and therefor need to make no decision. It’s an easy flat rate system. Also, you’ll try new things. Would you ever buy Persimmon? Probably not. But did you know they make an amazing bread? They do. And we wouldn’t know without Bountiful Baskets.
Here’s another advantage. We ALWAYS have fruits and veggies in the house. The kids snack on apples and bananas, instead of Cheese-Its. I always have a side item to serve with dinner, be it green beans, asparagus, potatoes, etc. We are eating healthier, every day. We have fresh fruit for breakfast and lunch, and veggies with dinner.
For you home caners, this is the best deal going. Not only do you have a steady supply of fresh produce coming in, but they also offer things in bulk. It’s not every week…but they’ll offer cases of tomatoes, apples, peaches, cucumbers, citrus, and other stuff. 2 weeks ago I got 50# of cucumbers for an additional $17.50. This week, I’m getting 20# of tomatoes for $9.50. It’s an easy and convenient way to get produce for canning and preserving.
On a side note, they also sell bread, cookies, granola, and honey, although I haven’t bought that, as we bake our own bread and cookies. They also have organic baskets every other week, but they cost more, and that’s not my thing (yet).
Long story short. Pool your money, get better prices. Get a ton of random, good quality, produce for $16.50. Buy when you want, no obligation to continue. We get it every 2 weeks. My mom gets one a month. Others I know get 2 baskets a week (with 7 kids at home). It’s all up to you. Their website “opens” on Tuesdays. You can order between noon Tuesday, and 10pm Wednesday. The produce is distributed Saturday morning between 0700-0900, depending on your site. Please try it, at least once. I think you’ll be hooked.