A few months ago my wife began to discuss with her friends the idea of joining an organic produce co-op. A produce co-op is a network of individuals that join together to purchase fruits and vegetables from a distributor.
The organic produce co-op my family joined provides us with fresh organic produce every two weeks. The biggest advantage of a co-op are that it provides healthy eating options at a lower cost than if you purchased your organic fruits and vegetables at a supermarket.
Organic produce is grown without using modern synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The produce is also not genetically altered and does not include additives. Due to this, some people feel that eating organic food is a healthier eating option than non-organic foods.
Through this co-op, the distributor that we work with sorts organic fruits and vegetables for each participant and every other Tuesday we pick up our food. The food is always packaged neatly in a gray bin. We drop off the bin from the last pick-up and take home our new bin.
The bin is always packaged with great produce. The distributor of the produce co-op decides which foods go in the bin, but it typically includes apples, bananas, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. The first thing I noticed when we began using the co-op was that the fruits tasted much sweeter than what you can purchase at a grocery store. The first co-op apple I bit into tasted like candy. And I don't mean that in a bad way. It was the sweetest apple I had ever eaten. Once we got blackberries, and after being used to dry, tasteless blackberries from the store, these new blackberries were a brave new world. Based on taste alone, I'm hooked on the produce co-op.
The co-op also provides a cost effective alternative to purchasing organic fruits and vegetables at the supermarket. While the organic co-op is not less expensive than the non-organic produce at a grocery store, if you want to eat organic foods, then the co-op will definitely save you money.
The only way that it might be more expensive to purchase through the co-op is that you may be given foods that you don't want and would not have bought at a grocery store. However, with some creativity and good research you can find interesting things to do with those fruits and vegetables. For example, twice we have been given kale in our produce bin. My family has never eaten kale so we were at a loss for what to do. The first time, my wife cooked it in lasagna. It wasn't bad, but didn't add much flavor to the lasagna. The second time we got kale my wife found a recipe for baked kale chips. Much to our surprise the chips were actually good! Our 3-year old son walked in the kitchen, reached up and took one. Much to our even bigger surprise, he loved them and wanted more.
Organic produce co-ops are all over the country. Do a search for them and you are sure to find a distributor close by. While there are studies that doubt that organic food provide much benefit over non-organic foods, the fact that organic produce simply tastes better is enough for me to continue to purchase our produce through our co-op.