Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bountiful Baskets

Over the summer someone mentioned I should look into a cooperative produce group called Bountiful Baskets.  I never really followed up on it, for basically two reasons.  1) In the summer I am gone almost every Saturday which is when the basket pick-up is.  2) In the summer we have our own garden and the farmer's market to supply our produce needs so we really don't buy much non-local produce. 
But, now that autumn is upon us--the garden put to rest for the year and the farmer's market closed-- we are back to buying produce at the store.  The onions are almost gone already.  The eating apples are long gone.  So is the garlic.  We failed to plant any fall greens aside from a few wispy arugula.  Someday I hope to store and put up enough homegrown to keep myself until the next season, but that is just a dream at this point.  So, rather than just head back to the store I thought I'd give the Bountiful Baskets thing a try. 

You can certainly find out more info on their website, but here is the gist:  Bountiful Baskets is an all volunteer  co-operative effort to buy produce in bulk at a lower cost.  They have drop locations in many states.   If you live in an area they serve you can contribute money towards a basket on Monday at noon, local time.  You then pick up your baskets at the scheduled time and location the following Saturday.  Our pick-up location is a private residence.  When we get there the baskets are lined up all down the driveway.  You check in with a volunteer and they point you to your basket. 
Bananas, red lettuce, green grapes, persimmons, onion, avocados, apples, cranberries, spaghetti squash, radishes, bok choy, tomatoes, limes.

Part of the fun-- and risk-- of this method of shopping is that you don't know what you will get.  Each week a variety of different items are in the baskets.  They say they try to base the basket contents on what is in season, high quality, and good value and so far I feel that has been the case.  They offer both an organic basket ($25) and a conventional one ($15).  We opt for the organic basket...which actually comes in a box...not a basket like the conventional produce.  Actually, that is the only thing I don't like so far.  Each week we take home a cardboard box filled with produce.  The conventional produce is in reusable baskets.  They don't have to take home cardboard!   But, whatever.  I did shoot off an email about it, but haven't yet received a reply.  I suppose there might be something to be said for having my organic produce safely contained in a box rather than risking some sort of mix-up.
Tomatoes, apples, cilantro, bananas, potatoes, cranberries, red grapes, spaghetti squash, romaine lettuce, kale, avocados, persimmons, pomegranates.
We won't really know for sure how great of a deal this is until we've used it a little longer, but so far I am pretty impressed. The quality is good, the price good, and it forces us to branch out and try new things.  Like radishes and lettuce.  Things we'd never buy on our own.    I'd always wanted to try bok choy!  But I got scared off "exotic" leafy things after the radicchio incident...

I will keep you posted if I grow dissatisfied in any way, but for now my fridge is stocked! 

2 comments:

  1. That's awesome, Beth. The end result for you is kind of like a CSA. It's cool that folks get together to buy produce in bulk to reduce the price.

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  2. It is kind of like a CSA, but not local. As far as I know there are no CSAs in Yellowstone County. Matt keep dreaming of starting one, but we need a little land first!

    It is pretty awesome I must say. Last week was the best basket yet.

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