I have blogged about Bountiful Baskets before. Any readers living in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington or Wyoming should seriously consider giving them a try, if they have not yet done so.
In Arizona, they only offer the organic produce basket every other week. We just got ours today, so the next available date will be Saturday, March 12th, with an order cutoff date of Tuesday, March 8th. Sometimes our family of 8 orders two baskets, but usually we only get one, and buy the rest of the produce we need at the store. That way, because we never know what will be in the basket until we get it, we can still pick up any specific produce we need and fill those gaps.
Other than not knowing what produce we will get, another downside of a co-op like this is the early pickup time (by 7 am at most locations). Also, participants are expected to volunteer several times throughout the year, since the baskets are assembled at each location from wholesale produce cases delivered by truck. Personally, I really think this is a great motivation to get up early and get some exercise (LOTS of picking up, bending, and carrying heavy loads).
One nice benefit is that sometimes, we get a new or exotic ingredient we may otherwise never have tried, or are encouraged to eat more produce simply because it's there and we already paid for it. The main advantage of course is the abundance of fresh, organic produce that we get to enjoy at close to wholesale price. Organic produce is free from artificial pesticides and herbicides (think Round-Up), and artificial fertilizers. They are never genetically engineered (think Round-Up again, and Frankenfoods), and are not sprayed with chemicals after harvest to prolong their transportation and shelf life. (Side note: Once, when I was volunteering at BB, I was put on the conventional side for putting baskets together. After having helped assemble over 100 baskets over the course of an hour, my hands were covered in a strange waxy substance that made me break out in hives on both arms and itched like crazy. While many produce waxes are often plant-based, they usually also contain preservatives. YUCK! I now no longer volunteer on the conventional produce side.)
Look what our $25 got us today:
From left to right:
10 oz box of cherry tomatoes
1 lb sweet peas
1 large bunch broccoli
8 bananas (they always come green like that, and turn yellow within a few days)
1 bunch spinach
1 head lettuce
4 lb bag + 3 extra grapefruit
6 oz box of blueberries
That's a whole lot of green for our "green"!
I see some really great green smoothies coming this week! One reader recommended mixing pineapple, bananas, strawberries, coconut milk, and spinach - which sounded really yummy, and now I have the pineapple to make it.
Any great recipes you can share for using the sweet peas and grapefruit? I love to eat both of them raw, but the rest of my family doesn't. Also, readers from other states, please chime in and leave a comment below if you have a similar resource where you live.