8/28 UPDATE: Today is your opportunity to order for pick up this coming Saturday. If offered near you, time and location will vary in your area. This week's optional additional items (which seem to be offered only west of the Mississippi) include Utah peaches or Hatch chiles for $18 per 25 lbs box, limit 5 boxes. There is also a fajita veggie pack for $5 along with the usual breads and granola offerings. Oh, and did I mention that for an additional $10 you can upgrade your basic basket to organic?
Original post: A couple of months ago I wrote a short blurb (#11 on the Resources Page) about the Bountiful Baskets food cooperative. They serve locations in 19 states, mostly in the west and central US, but GA and KY are in the mix. It takes a little planning to order Monday or Tuesday and pick up your loot on Saturday, but for $16.50 you get a huge amount of fruit and veggies. They also have add-ons that include breads, tortillas packs (about 10 doz w/ 65% flour -35% corn), extra fruits or veggies in season. Prices for add-ons will vary, but the breads are usually 5 loaves for $10 or $12, which is a max of $2.25 per 18 ounce loaf. You only sign up when you want to -- for us it's about every 2 week because there is just more produce than we can go through in a week. The normal weekly amount would be about right for a family of 4.
This week I picked up the following for my $16.50 (weights are approx):
1 head cauliflower, 1.5 lbs fresh green chili, 3 lbs onion, 4 tomatoes (approx 1.5 lbs), 1 very large fresh head of romaine, about 2 lbs Brussel sprouts, 4 pink grapefruit, 2 Asian pears, 2 lbs each: cherries, grapes, nectarines. Basket items vary with the season and which crops are coming in. Some of the items are what the big chains might not want. We received the most incredible, delicious plums for about a month, but they were smaller than what I see in the stores. Perhaps the small size does not sell as well. In April and May we received a pineapple almost every time -- and they were wonderful. We are eating more healthful food, planned around what's in the Bountiful Basket.
If you are a canner, they offer cases of some fruit or veggie each week. Probably not as inexpensive as U-pick, but it is a good deal for your preparedness food storage.
The produce is a lot fresher than the grocery stores, probably because several 'middle' steps have been eliminated. If you find a badly bruised or split item during pick up, they will replace it or provide a substitute item immediately. Occasionally a delivery truck is late -- last week one was stopped for a DOT inspection and set the schedule back by more than an hour. Normally the produce is available on time. It's sort of like a produce flash mob -- truck drops it off, volunteers load the laundry baskets, people pick theirs up and the whole thing is done and gone in about 2 hours! It really is a marvel of cooperation that works.