Thursday, September 24, 2015

All About Bountiful Baskets


Bountiful Baskets is a local food co-op; a group of people who work together for mutual benefit.  From their website: This is a grassroots, all volunteer, no contracts, no catch co-operative.  Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group pay rock bottom prices on your food. 

How Does it Work?
As a group, we (you) purchase items at deep discounts.  Items are then distributed evenly among participants.  It's the same idea as what the grocery store does - only you take the grocery store out of the equation.  Food is purchased directly from bulk suppliers and shipped to a designated location where you and everyone else comes to pick it all up.
Basically, you contribute (order) what they call a basket.  This basket is comprised of 50% fruits, and 50% vegetables.  You pick a location nearest you, and show up at the designated time and place.  You'll walk in to something like this:

Dozens of baskets filled with produce.  You'll stand in line, show the person in charge your order confirmation, and will be issued a basket.  You'll then empty out all of the contents and take it home in a container that you brought.



What is Included in each Basket?
50% fruit, 50% veggies, baskets consist of a variety of quality, seasonal produce.  They balance variety with seasonality to get the most appealing and cost-effective baskets possible.  On average you'll get about 6 different types of fruit options, and 6 different vegetable options.


Here is a photo from the web of what a typical basket may consist of:

Where Does the Food Come From?


Bountiful Baskets chooses to use local produce first whenever available.  Regional produce is used if local is unavailable.  They also have organic baskets for an additional fee.

What Locations are Available?
Currently, Bountiful Baskets has areas set up in 23 states; each with several cities participating.  Click here for a complete list of locations.  If you don't have a location near you, there is an option to create one!  Click Here to read instructions and directions for organizing an additional location with Bountiful Baskets. 

How Do I Participate?
First time participant instructions can be found here.  Basically, you create a customer account online, and "participate/contribute" (order your basket) whenever you want.  Once your contribution has been processed, you'll get a confirmation email that you will either print or take electronically to your designated pick up area.  Easy peasy.

Do I Have to volunteer?
This co-op would not happen without volunteers, but doing so is not necessarily mandatory.  They expect all participants to volunteer occasionally, but nothing is regulated.  However, volunteering is really easy, and doesn't take a lot of time.  Most often, if you do volunteer, you get to take home the additional produce that couldn't be distributed evenly among all of the baskets, so there is an incentive!
Volunteer opportunities include helping prepare the baskets, breaking down boxes, assisting with the distribution, packing up, etc.  If you are interested in volunteering, simply arrive an hour earlier than your pickup time.

Do They Only Offer Produce Baskets?
No.  Years ago, I would regularly participate and get a weekly basket as our replacement trip to the grocery store.  These days, the only reason I ever purchase from bountiful baskets is to take advantage of their additional items.  Each week you order a basket you have the option to add on extra items.  These items often include bulk fruit purchases, which are perfect for canning, freezing, dehydrating, etc.  Or if you are like us, they are just for eating, but are a much better price than what you can find in your local market.  They also have things like dried beans, oils, granola, breads, etc.  Most of these items are the same week after week, but they will bring in seasonal selections, which I love.
Keep in mind that the additional items are just that; additional.  You will still need to purchase a basket before you have the option to add more items to your cart.

Con's:
You don't get to pick what is in your basket.  If you like to be selective about exactly what types of food you are getting, this in not the place for you.  If you have green bananas in your basket and you wanted yellow; too bad.  You needed 15 apples and you only got 7; out of luck.  (Though I will mention that trading produce among other participants is quiet common).
Every week your basket contents are a surprise.  This can be either fun or annoying, depending on how you look at it.  Often times there are item(s) you've never used; and if you aren't a foodie, you may have to ask around to find out what it even is.

There is not a lot of regulation going on here.  Volunteers unload, handle, and disperse your produce. If you have an issue with anything, there isn't exactly a store manager that you can talk to.

This isn't a same day transaction.  You order and pay for your basket at the beginning of the week, and schedule your pickup time for days later.  Most of the pickup times are on Saturday mornings, so you have to have your weekend planned out before purchasing.

Pro's:
Pricing.  By cutting out the middle man, you get groceries for less.  On average, they claim that your $15 basket contribution pays for about $50 of produce if you were to purchase from the store.  Though I think this is highly exaggerated, it still is, for the most part, cheaper.  The add on items make up all the difference in my opinion.

Variety.  From my experience, there has always been a good mix of fruits and vegetables, exposing you and your family to new foods that you wouldn't necessarily purchase regularly.

Just like everything else, Bountiful Baskets definitely has its place in my food storage world.  They have a Frequently Asked Questions Page if there are additional things you are wondering about that weren't covered here.  You can also review their policies by clicking here.

Thanks for reading!  If you have anything you'd like to add, please feel free to comment below!

Also, if you've missed out on the other food storage company reviews, you can access them here:
Which Food Storage Company is Right for You?
All about Thrive Life
All about Zaycon Fresh
All about Home Storage Centers (LDS Cannery)
All about Alpine Food Storage

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