Bountiful Baskets: Got Produce?
Yesterday we went out to eat dinner after a long day at LEGO camp (look for a post about that later in the week!), because when you’re 37 weeks pregnant and spend your day with 20 incredibly over-excited elementary schoolers, you don’t have to cook dinner (It’s a rule somewhere, I’m sure). As the kids are piling out of the car in the restaurant parking lot, my three year old son bent down, peeled up a half chewed Mike & Ike from the pavement, and popped it into his mouth. My nine year old caught it and made him spit it out, but it got me thinking: the disgusting things toddlers will eat never ceases to amaze me, especially when you consider all the amazingly delicious things most of them WON’T eat (or at least often put up a fight about).
Luckily for me, despite my child’s desire to eat floor food (and parking lot food, and under the table food, and “one-of-my-siblings-half chewed-this-and-spit-it-out-but-I-don’t-care” food), I am thankful to say that he (along with the other five) is also very willing to eat just about any fruit or veggie that I put in front of him. Our older three kids each get one food a piece that we almost never make them eat (avocados, tomatoes, and mushrooms are each of their current dislikes), but other than that we have a firm “eat what you’re given” policy that is rarely met with resistance. I think that a lot of the credit for that is due to Bountiful Baskets and the vast variety of fruits and veggies it introduces us to each week.
Bountiful Baskets is a non-profit produce cooperative (co-op). Participants set up a free online account, and then (for our area) beginning Monday at noon, login and make their contribution. It’s not referred to as “ordering”, since BB is not a business that you’re buying from but a rather a co-op where we’ve all pooled our money together to buy things. Contributions close out Tuesday (11p), and can sometimes fill up quickly. Each site (location) has just 96 baskets available to them, so it’s first come first serve. There was a point when I first opened our BB site that we participants jokingly referred to it as “Fight Club” (The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club!), because we would sell out in FIFTEEN MINUTES on Monday afternoon!
Participants receive, on average, six different types of fruits and six different types of veggies in a standard conventional basket (there’s an organic option, too!). One of my favorite things about BB is that you don’t know what you’re getting in your basket until you go pick it up. We have been exposed to and had the chance to try things I never would have bought at the grocery store, let alone even heard of! I love that my kids are excited to see what came in our basket each week and so willing to try things that they’ve never had. It keeps us on our toes and makes meal planning a lot more fun!
Now on to the semi-boring nitty gritty stuff: The contribution price is $15.00 per basket (upgrade for an organic basket is $10.00, for a total of $25.00). You also have the opportunity to purchase add-ons: Want five loaves of some of the most amazing, organic, 9-grain bread you’ve ever had for just $2 a loaf? Forty-five pounds of Ranier Cherries to make jam (or maybe just eat) for $25? Add-ons are amazing and vary by week! The amount for add-ons varies depending on the item, and availability is based on what could be bought in bulk for a great price and what’s in season. The first time basket fee is $3.00 (paid just once!) and there’s a processing fee of $1.50, which must be paid every time you contribute. Your entire contribution is spent on food, so the $1.50 is necessary to cover card processing, servers, and other expenses. They’ve also had to add a fuel surcharge to account for the increases in fuel expense since starting ten years ago (in our neck of the woods is $2, bringing your contribution total to $18.50. Each basket after that is just the standard $15 for conventional/$25 for organic, no extra fees!)
So, you’ve participated online, ordered a million pounds of blueberries, now how do you get all that produce home with you? Pick-up in Wichita Falls is Friday at 5:30p (following the Monday or Tuesday that you ordered) in front of John Tower Elementary. Remember, BB is COMPLETELY run by volunteers, so no volunteers, no BB (or at least not an efficient one). It’s suggested that you try to volunteer once every six to eight times that you participate, but after being our area’s Volunteer Site Coordinator (VSC) for almost four years, I can tell you that you might just grow to love volunteering and show up every week (or every other week, depending on when you order!). It’s always interesting, filled with laughs, and has given me the opportunity to grow new friendships over the years! Since your VSC wants to get home at a decent time each Friday night, there’s a 20 minute pick-up window that you agree to upon contributing. If you’re late or don’t show up, your produce gets donated to one of the local fire departments (per BB protocol). Don’t worry, you do get two reminder phone calls if we haven’t seen your face by 5:50p!
The amount of money we save on produce thanks to Bountiful Baskets each month is unreal. The average conventional basket has anywhere from $45-65 worth of produce in it (with the organic option being even higher since organic foods are more expensive), and at $15 a piece, you can’t beat that price with a stick! We order multiple baskets a week and almost always get through every bit of our produce (except for maybe those daikon radishes. Those things are gross, ya’ll). If you’re looking for a way to help save money while still feeding your family healthy options, check out Bountiful Baskets!
Have questions? Comment below!