As part of the Real Food Challenge series I thought I would cover using a food co-op for purchasing food. This is an article I wrote over at Not Dabbling in Normal and thought you guys might be curious how a Food Co-op works...
I buy most of my dry goods…flours, grains, sugars,rice, beans etc. through a food co-op. I also get some of my frozen vegetable and fresh produce during the winter through them also. This is not your typical way of purchasing food but I have done it for years and it works wonderfully for my family.
The way my co-op works is that there are designated drop points along a delivery route, sometimes at a person’s home, a parking lot, or in my case a wide spot in the road off a highway exit. There has to be a minimum order at each drop point to warrant a delivery. On delivery day all the co-op buyers meet and unload our orders from the back of a refrigerated semi-truck. Sometimes we have to split things into individual orders if we have all purchased the same thing. We visit a short time, say good-bye till next month then go home and unload our items.
Lentil stew with homemade bread
Why do I bother with this? Well for two reasons, cost savings and selection. You see I live in a small town with just the bare bones selection of organic grains. Organic white flour and organic whole wheat flour…that is it. Through my co-op I purchase organic oats, rye, spelt, barley, amaranth, millet, white whole wheat, quinoa…all in grain form ready for me to grind or use whole. They have a huge selection or organic rice, popcorn, and other interesting grains. You can choose traditional, organic, or eco-farmed. You can also purchase flour, frozen fruits and veggies, canned goods, personal items, cookware, books, canning supplies, and more!
I get 50# of organic hard red wheat berries for $18.40. This will make #50 pounds of whole wheat flour at about $.37 a pound. When was the last time you bought a 5 pound bag of organic WW flour for $1.84? I cannot even touch these prices in my local supermarket let alone an expensive health food store.
Hamburger buns rising
We try to eat as locally as we can but living on the edge of the country in the rain belt there are many things, like most grains and beans, that we just can’t or don’t grow anywhere remotely close to here. So I must either purchase at the local market with their dismal selection and high prices or order monthly, meet the truck, unload it, and bring my purchases home from there. Well with a big family to feed it is an easy decision for me…food co-op it is!
Raisin Apple sticky buns
I use Azure Standard as my food co-op, it is nation wide. How can you find a co-op? I originally found out about mine at a homeschool group, the mother’s with large families were discussing the money savings and I was intrigued. Our local feed store owner uses a co-op as does my neighbor, just ask around to see what the locals use. There of course is google! When I searched food co-op with my zip code there were many options listed.
Finding a co-op that works for you, where you live, and how you eat may take a little bit of researching and learning but the saving and selection will make the effort worth while.
Join the Real Food Challenge at Not Dabbling in Normal!
So do any of you use a food co-op or any other non-traditional ways of getting your groceries?