Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bountiful Baskets - A Fruit & Veggie Co-Op

A few months ago Steve's running buddy Ben turned us on to a little known co-op called Bountiful Baskets.  It is a not for profit fruit & veggie co-op that eliminates the middle man - aka your local grocery store so you get more for less. A full explanation of the program can be found HERE.   Bountiful Baskets is available all across the county.  Search for a city near you HERE.

In a nutshell, every other Monday there are a limited number of baskets for pre-order.  A conventional basket is $15 plus a transport fee.  The first time you order there is a one time only $3 basket fee. You can order 3 baskets per person so you can split the processing fee with a couple of friends.   This is actually what I have been doing - ordering 3 shares & splitting it with 2-3 of my training buddies.

The baskets are split about 50/50 between fruits & vegetables.   Each week they have extras that can be added on.  Extras are different every time but in the past they have offered flats of strawberries, blueberries, grill packs, juice packs, etc.  Also, they offer different types of breads.  The breads are really good but they need to be either eaten within a few days, refrigerated or frozen because they don't have all the crap in them that keeps them from never going bad.  Have you ever noticed how long the typical grocery store hot dog bun will stay 'good' on your counter?  It kind of freaks me out.

The co-op is volunteer run which means every 6 or so orders it is good karma to show up an hour early to help unload the truck & fill the baskets. Be advised it is hard work!  For volunteering you are rewarded with an extra goodie in your basket & first pick of the baskets.  All produce is equally divided amongst all the baskets & then the extras are also equally divided to the baskets.

The Bountiful Basket Delivery Truck
Unloading the Goods
The Baskets - 1 veggie & 1 fruit
Below are the goodies from an early March basket order.  Included in this share are:
  • 3 heads of green leaf lettuce (1 was for volunteering)
  • 3 heads of bok choy
  • 1 thing of celery
  • 3 red peppers
  • 1 - 5lb bag of potatoes
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 pound of strawberries
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 package of mushrooms
  • 7 pears
  • 20 lemons
Early March Conventional Basket
Bountiful Salad

To date I have participated in 6 orders.  I have even introduced a few of my training buddies to Bountiful Baskets as well.   Every share the produce is different so you can experiment with new things.  So far, I haven't wasted too much produce.  It helps we drink smoothies on a regular basis.  I will put just about anything into a smoothie these days - well, not onions or potatoes but definitely greens, carrots, celery, zucchini, etc.  If I can freeze something I will do that as well.  That is what I did with the 20 lemons order - I juiced them, put them in 1 cup containers & froze them.   I did have one batch of bananas that never ripened but other than that everything has been high quality.

Below are the goodies in the May 31st share:
  • 1.5 heads of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 3 squash
  • 12 white onions (a few were extras from Ruth)
  • 1 pack of blackberries
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 6 green apples
  • 6 bananas
  • 1 bag of grapes
  • 2 orange peppers
This week in addition to the conventional basket I also ordered 1 flat of strawberries & 1 flat of blueberries.  The total for 1 conventional basket, 8 pounds of strawberries & 72 oz of blueberries was $47.  Pretty good deal plus we are guaranteed to eat a lot better!  I freeze most of the strawberries & blueberries to use in smoothies.  They do offer an all organic share for an additional $10.

May 31st Conventional Basket 
Bountiful Grill - Purple potatoes from a previous basket
Grilled Naan Bountiful Pizza
The national Bountiful Baskets has a Facebook page as well as at the state level.

National Bountiful Basket - HERE
Kentucky Bountiful Basket - HERE

When I first started ordering in March the baskets would sell out in about 2-4 hours.  Since then Lexington has grown to a double site - meaning they support around 200 orders.  I don't think they haven't sold out since making Lexington a double site.  I think it may be a combo of the weather being nicer & the farmers markets in full swing has slowed the ordering quite a bit.  Kentucky is trying to expand so they are trying to get the word out about this program.

The next ordering opportunity for Kentucky is Monday June 9th at 1PM.  The Lexington pick up site is at 5PM Saturday (next one is 6/14) on Southland drive.   If you eat a lot of fruits & veggies or if you want to start eating better this may be a great program for you.

Let me know if you have any questions & I will do my best to answer them.


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