Nutrition 101: Eating Local Produce All year

This was an article which I first published more than two years ago. However, I feel this is a timeless topic that bares repeating. You can never go wrong by eating locally grown food. This was a series of articles, which I’ll repost over the course of the next few months. This was actually the second in the series. I decided to post it first this time, because you should always look to your local produce services first. I’ve checked the links, deleted some and added others. Let me know if you have a favorite I’ve missed!

Here is the original article

When I first set out to write an article on purchasing groceries and produce online, I intended it to be just one article. However, upon researching, I discovered four sides of online grocery and produce delivery services: grocery store delivery, produce delivery, meat delivery, and meal delivery. So, I’ve decided to give it the attention it deserves and break it up into four parts. In my last article, I discussed the 1st aspect, grocery store delivery, and listed a wide variety of grocery stores that deliver to your home. Today, we continue on the delivery theme, by discussing the 2nd part, produce delivery.

Vegetables, Onions, Carrots, Beets, Food, Healthy

Since I started this particular blog series, a few people have asked me about buying locally grown produce, especially in the winter time. So, I set out to find online services that deliver directly to you, (Or at least to your town for pick-up).

The term “local” is relative, especially in the winter time. If you live in Northern Minnesota in January, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a farmer anywhere near you that has fresh produce. In a situation like that, sometimes “local” might mean Florida or California. The best thing to do, is to try to purchase produce grown within the country. You want it to travel the fewest miles possible.

That being said, why not just drop on down to the grocery store and buy produce there in the winter time? You certainly can do that. However, make sure to do your homework. Find out where the store’s brand produce is grown (it will most likely be California-and that’s ok.) and only purchase produce grown within the U.S.A., because that’s what is “local” at the moment. (Ask the produce manager, and read labels. Much of the produce in the store comes from Mexico, Central America or even South America-stay away from that).

If you can buy food grown within the U.S.A. at a local grocery store, you might be asking -what’s the benefit to using an online service? That’s a good question. Most of the online “stores” I found are very much like a physical “farmer’s market” only online. You are eliminating the middle man, buying DIRECTLY from the farmer(s), supporting small AMERICAN businesses, and receiving fresher, riper produce. So, just where can you find these “online farmer’s markets?”

The best place to find locally grown produce, other than a farmer’s market, is through a CSA-Community Supported Agriculture. CSA’s became popular 25 years ago, as a way for people to purchase locally grown produce, directly from the farmer. It’s like a farmer’s market, without the market. Unfortunately, unless you live in the warmer, southern climates, the CSA’s would be limited to the growing season, which ends in October, in most cases.

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Here is a quote from Local Harvest:

“Here are the basics (of a CSA): a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.”

To find a CSA near you go to:  http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

For more specific needs, such as fruit or meat, go to: http://www.localharvest.org/store/

Another option for locally grown food, produce, organic products and health food ingredients are food CO-OP’s. What is a CO-OP?

“A co-op is any voluntary organization composed of a group of individuals (or organizations) formed for their mutual (generally, financial) benefit. A familiar example is a group of roommates who rent an apartment together to save money.”

For a full listing of FOOD CO-OP’s for all 50 states go to: http://www.coopdirectory.org/directory.htm

In most cases, the CO-OP will be in the form of a physical grocery store, however, there are also “buying clubs”. A buying club is a group of people who buy food from a CO-OP Distributor.

For a list of a online CO-OP distributors go to: http://www.coopdirectory.org/distributor.htm

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An example of one of these online CO-OP distributors is Azure Standard. You can find them here: https://www.azurestandard.com/. Azure Standard isn’t just produce, they are a full online grocery store. Here’s a short video about their company. They have “drop sites” in almost every state, or you can choose to have it shipped.

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Farm Box Direct– This is a good example of a Buying Club, only on a national scale. FarmBox Direct offers weekly boxes, which change based on what is seasonally available and they deliver nationwide. Here’s a quote from their website, followed by a short video:

“Farmbox Direct delivers the most delicious fruits and veggies to the entire Continential United States. Our mission is to bring you and your family healthy organic & natural produce, and to support our local farmers and community.

Our menu changes weekly according to what’s fresh, local, and in-season. With our service, you get more control of what goes in your box, and you can make up to 5 substitutions in every delivery!”

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Prime Now-Amazon Fresh-Amazon has produce and grocery delivery services available in select cities. See the list below. (UPDATE: Amazon now has a “local/seasonal” section)

Below is a listing of other sites that offer produce delivery services. Most offer nationwide delivery, however, some do charge for shipping.

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Boxed Greens

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Bountiful Baskets

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T.G.L. Organic

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Green People

Hungry Harvest

Hungry Harvest

2020 UPDATE:

“Irregular” produce Delivery

Since this article was first published, a couple of companies have sprung up which sell “irregular” produce directly to your door. The concept behind irregular produce is simple. These companies deliver produce that is misshapen in some way, and not “fit” for grocery stores. In most cases, this produce is cheaper than grocery store prices by up to 30%.
I’ve actually tried this one and I HIGHLY recommend it. In most cases, you’d never know the produce was imperfect. The delivery area is quite limited unfortunately.

Imperfect Foods

“Imperfect Foods was founded in 2015 with a mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone. We offer imperfect (yet delicious) produce, affordable pantry items, and quality eggs and dairy. We deliver them conveniently to our customers’ doorsteps and pride ourselves on offering up to a 30% discount compared to grocery store prices. Our customers can get the healthy, seasonal produce they want alongside the grocery staples they rely on, without having to compromise their budget or values. We’re proving that doing the right thing for the planet doesn’t have to cost more, and that shopping for quality ingredients can support the people and resources that it takes to grow our favorite foods.”
Misfits Market

Misfits Market

“Bring delicious, fresh, and affordable misfit produce to people everywhere and reduce food waste at a scale that creates positive and lasting impact.
Unlike other brands, we aren’t focused just on dense urban areas. We are made to go to every zip code in the states we serve, and be within reach of every household.
We are putting fresh produce that might not check all the boxes for perfection into boxes, and sending it straight to you. Sooner than you’d be able to buy it at a store. For half the price. And most importantly, our location is your location. Whether you’re next door to a fancy grocery store, in the middle of a food desert, or somewhere in between.
Every box of Misfits produce you order benefits farmers, helps prevent food waste, and ultimately helps save our environment. Our rapidly expanding Philadelphia- and New Jersey-based operation rescues produce from regional farms and distributes it throughout the Northeast, South, and Midwest in three business days or less.”

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