Origin date: November 30, 2009

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are standing in the middle of the room, shouting and no one pays any mind? Or maybe when you are talking to someone and you have a sneaking suspicion that they are not listening because there is a slight glaze to their eyes? This is exactly how I feel about the subject of Food Co-ops. Everyone, everywhere, is talking about how they need to save money, how they need to budget better. Fascinatingly, these are the same folks that need to eat better, lose weight and eat out less. I listen and nod my head, express how all of this can be frustrating (which it is!) and suggest a possible solution: your local Food Co-op. TA-DA!

The initial response is usually: “Ooh, what’s that?” I recount the mind-boggling amount of food that I got in my last order and the astonishing price I got it for. At this point, it seems like I might have them hooked. Then they ask me how they get this food. I explain to them the steps and let them know, “yeah, it’s not quite like going to the grocery store but it will save you so much money and you will have inexpensive access to tons of fruits vegetables and even meat!” This is where I step down off the chair I’m exclaiming from and write down the website address. Later on, I find out they never order, ever. *sniff*

There are Food Co-ops ALL OVER the country, they may offer different things but they all have a similar goal: to get more fresh fruits and vegetables on our dinner tables. Some feature organic, local produce from farms near you and some want to bring the cost of healthy food lower. My local Co-op buys from the same suppliers as the local grocery stores and provides the produce to people basically at cost. It is completely volunteer run. This means that the food you get from the Food Co-Op is the same quality you would find in the grocery store for about 1/4 of the cost. And guess what? ANYONE CAN USE THE CO-OP! Although it is not always organic and local, they strive to get organic and local produce whenever they can.

This is a picture of just PART of my friend’s Co-op order from a couple of months back. You can see that it is a good variety of produce, acorn squash, bell peppers, peaches… I could go on. (Thanks for the pic Enrique.)

What else is great about this is the cost – it’s like getting food for free!!! They have several different shares that you can buy. Some include meat and lots of produce, good for a family. Some include some meat and less vegetables, good for a couple or a single person. And some are all vegetables and usually a bag of beans or rice. ALL of the shares include a loaf of whole wheat bread from a local bakery. For a description of the shares go here!

In fact, just to illustrate further the eye-popping amazing-ness of how much food you get in an order, here is my order checklist from my last pick-up.

And here is the eye-popping part: It only cost me $14! That’s right folks, a whole $14! And its the same quality produce that you would get at the grocery store. I am usually able to stretch these supplies out to up to two and a half weeks and I and on average I spend around $80 a month total on groceries for 2 people. Obviously, if you are in a larger family then of course the cost would be more but you can buy the larger shares and buy multiple shares if needed.

The discovery of my local Food Co-op has been a HUGE help with my budget and it has kept me eating healthy with such great amounts of fruits and vegetables. I strongly urge you to research Food Co-ops in your community. They offer amazing money savings on food, access to more nutrient-rich produce and, if you desire, an opportunity to volunteer and meet some really great people. For those of you who live near my roost you can click here.

So please, don’t make me get up on a chair and sing the praises of joining a Food Co-op only to learn that you weren’t actually paying attention. Definitely check out your local Co-op or start your own!