Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bountiful Baskets - My Experience

Bountiful  Baskets:  A Money Saving Way to Buy Produce
Bountiful Baskets is a Food Co-op.  It was started in 2006 and they provide about $50 retail worth of produce for $15 plus a $1.50 fee.  I usually buy produce that is on sale at a really good price, but Bountiful baskets offers more produce for a better price than I can get myself.  You sign up on Mondays or Tuesdays, and they have a limited amount of baskets available.  If there aren’t baskets left at the location you want to go to, you can choose another location that may be a little bit farther away. 
A few weeks ago, I started getting Bountiful Baskets.  I had heard a lot about it from others, but then a site was opened up that was close to our home.  There were a lot of questions that went through my mind.  What was it?  How did it work?  Was it worth the money?  There was only one way to find out, and that was to try it myself.
The first week I bought a basket, I bought an organic basket and most of the produce was good.  I had a few pieces of fruit that were moldy when I got them.  The fruit still was worth the money I paid, but there were some things in the basket that we didn’t like too well.  I wasn’t sure that it was worth the trade off, but decided to give it a few weeks before making a decision.    
The next week I bought a regular basket and I went to volunteer as well.  Each volunteer gets to have one large or two small items after the produce is distributed evenly.  The boxes were heavy, and the truck was very late because of an unexpected accident.  Two of the types of produce were too bad to put in the baskets because they were moldy or too soft.  It may have been a result of the accident and the extra time it took to get to us.  I think this was an exception and not the way things usually are.  The verdict was still out and I wasn’t sure if this was something I wanted to do.  But, the produce we did received was definitely worth the money, even without counting the moldy fruit.   The people I worked with were very nice.  I really enjoyed the volunteering.  I also learned that you can reject the fruit if you think it is bad.  After all the produce is distributed evenly and volunteers each get their items, the rest of the produce is divided up between all the baskets. 
The next week, I volunteered again.  I asked if I could do other things instead of lifting the heavy boxes.  They were so nice and told me to do whatever I felt I could do.  I wish I had asked the first time!  The fruit in my basket this time was great.  It was all good and we would use all of it.  The experience volunteering was good.  They told us not to put any bad fruit in the baskets, but set it aside.  The people I worked with were just great.  I even traded some things in my basket with someone else that had things they wanted to trade.  I didn’t even think of that before.
Bountiful Baskets also offers bread, extra produce packs like an Italian Veggie mix, a Lunch box with fruit perfect for lunches, bread, granola, coconut oil, etc.  You can also buy cases of fruit from time to time.  The box of apples offered one week was less than half the price that I would pay in the store.  Each week, there are new things to try.  They also send out surveys so you can give feedback about your experience, what you liked and didn’t like, etc.  They go the extra mile to make the baskets the best they can. 
I am going to continue doing Bountiful Baskets.  I think it is a good thing and I like just going to one place for my produce and not having to worry about looking at ads to get the best price myself.  The produce is enough to feed our family of three for the week. Our friends have four people in their family and they also have enough produce for the week.  I really feel like I get my money’s worth each week.  Some friends of ours love getting them because they love the element of surprise.  Each time they get fun things that they normally wouldn’t purchase from the store.  I personally, could do without the collard greens and radishes, even though they add variety to our diet.  You need to show up on time to get your basket or it will be donated to a food bank, fire station or another good place.  My experience with Bountiful baskets ended up being a really good thing.  I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to try it.  Give it a few weeks, try volunteering and then see if it ends up being a good thing for you as well.  I think you will also be hooked!

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