Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bountiful Baskets: save money on produce

A little while ago I learned about this incredible produce co-op program that takes place every week in several Western States. Bountiful Baskets is a volunteer run organization. Members sign into their free, no-contract, accounts on-line early in the week and contribute money to pool together. Bountiful Baskets then buys produce from the same warehouses that grocery stores purchase their produce from. Early on Saturday mornings members arrive at a pick-up site in their communities to pick up their basket of produce. Take a look at the picture below.  This is what I received for my $15 contribution!

What I got in my Bountiful Basket this week!
My basket contained:

two crowns of brocolli
1 head of cauliflower
7 red potatoes
1 cucumber
8 ears of sweet corn
1 bunch of spinach
two containers of strawberries
1 watermelon
1 pineapple
1 bunch of bananas
3 apples
2 grapefruit

My contribution was $15 plus $1.50 in handling charges and a one-time basket fee of $3 since it was my first time participating. If you want organic produce, it is available for a contribution of $25. They also have some options each week of other things to buy like bread, tortillas, oriental produce, a box of peaches, etc.

Sounds good, right? Is there a catch? Well--yes--you don't get to choose what will be in your basket or how much. You get what you get. However, if you look at what I got you'll see that they pick items that most people generally enjoy. Yes, once in a while they will throw in something a little more exotic, but they know from experience what their members usually enjoy and that's mostly what they purchase. You will receive about half fruit and half vegetables. And, if you don't show up in the 20 minute pick-up window you will forfeit your basket--no refunds for no-shows since they already spent your money. You can have someone else pick up your basket if you can't make it or it will be donated.

I tried for several weeks to participate, but all the sites in my area were full. This is getting to be a popular program and it's spreading across the west. They just opened a new site near me so I was able to get in. Each site has a volunteer coordinator and many participants show up an hour early to prepare baskets and help distribute. I arrived on time at 7:30 AM at a local car dealership that allows Bountiful Baskets to use their service area on Saturday mornings and this is what it looked like:

Each person receives TWO of these baskets--one fruit--one veggie

These were mine. You must transfer them to your own basket to take home
You can participate only on the weeks you wish and you can buy more than one basket or share your basket with a friend
This is a great way to get more fruits and veggies in your diet and save money at the same time. My pick up site also just happens to be close to the Great Harvest Bread Company. After I pick up my basket I can swing in there for some fresh baked rolls to enjoy on a Saturday morning!


1 comment:

  1. omgosh...that sounds like so much fun!!! Sorta like CHOPPED on the food network. (those 4 chefs get a basket of ingredients for each of 3 courses - appetizer, entree and dessert- they all get the same, the prep is timed, 1 chef is eliminated each round - the winner gets 10,000.00) It's intense, an edge of the seater.

    I went to the farmers market today too. Had a great time.