Growing up in a semi-small town in central Texas, the term “organic” was synonymous with “hippie.” Wanna eat organic? Go live in Austin with all the other hippies and swim naked in Lake Travis. That was how it felt when I was a child. And of course, why would I have wanted to eat organic? I’m no crazy bohemian Austinite. Our local grocery store didn’t have an organic section for the longest time, and even when they did add one, it was tiny and expensive.
Skip to the present, where perspective has changed. You’re not eating healthy unless it’s organic. And most of us should be eating healthier, right? Problem: it’s still expensive! Last week, a friend told me I should try out a local co-op called Rawfully Organic. At this point, I had no idea what a co-op was. She helped me understand and I decided to try it out.
This is how a co-op works, for all the other co-op n00bs out there like me. Here’s the disclaimer: this is how the co-op I went to works. I don’t know if other co-ops work this way, because I haven’t tried them. So if a co-op near you is different, don’t get mad at me. Not my fault.
First, you sign up. That part’s free. Then, you decide what you want. Rawfully Organic has several different types of boxes, called “shares.” You can get a half share, a full share, or a fruit share. Half shares have fruits and veggies, full shares have MORE fruits and veggies, and fruit shares have just a variety of fruits, no veggies. Easy. You don’t pay a membership or anything like that. You pick a box, decide when and where you want to pick it up, and then you pay for your share. If you’re new, they make you pay online, but after you’ve gotten a few shares, they allow you to reserve a box and pay when you pick up your share. But you HAVE to pay for your share, whether or not you pick it up. There are three sites where they do pick-ups here in Houston. I chose the one on a Thursday because the location was near my work. They also do neighborhood drop-offs for a little extra, in case you can’t make it to the co-op during normal hours or can’t make it that far out for some reason. What most people ask me is how often can you get a box? Well, they do pick-ups three days a week, so you could get a box three times a week if you really wanted to. Or you could get a box once a month or once every other month. It really doesn’t matter. You reserve a box when you want a box. It’s that simple.
So what comes in a share? Well, it’s different depending on what time of year you get your share. These are local, organic seasonal veggies, so it can vary. I got a half share, since it’s just me and my husband. It cost $48.75. Here’s what I got in my share:
one seedless watermelon
five oranges (I think the purpose of the oranges is for juicing)
celery (I traded the celery for 3 lemons, because I HATE celery!)
a huge head of romaine lettuce
two big bundles of dinosaur kale
a huge bag of spring mix salad
a container of cherry tomatoes
a pint of strawberries
three pink lady apples
You also get three “points” with a half share that you can spend on things from a designated table. I used my points to buy two heads of broccoli and a bundle of delicious green onions. They had other things on the table: celery, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, red onions, and more.
If there’s anything in your box that you don’t like, it’s easy to swap for something else and they give you several options. You just ask someone volunteering there and they’ll tell you what you can swap for. They also have another table set up with extra little goodies on it that you can buy separately and add to your box. They just mark it off on their iPad and charge it to the same card you used to order your box. It can make things dangerous. The table had apples, lemons, limes, garlic, ginger, pumpkins, dates, and lots more goodies, but I refrained…this time around.
I have so far enjoyed my box. The strawberries didn’t make it a day before they were devoured. One of the pomegranates has been polished off, the watermelon was chopped up into bits consumed. The oranges have been juiced, the spring mix halfway gone. I will have to get creative with other things in my box. I’m not a huge fan of cucumber, so my husband will get that chopped up in his salads. I’ve never experimented with kale, so I made kale chips, which came out quite delicious. I love the idea of using my share to incorporate more healthy foods into our diet. I expect one box to last around two weeks, so $100 a month isn’t bad for fresh, local, organic produce. And it’s actually faster than going to the grocery store because I can just pick up and go! Now if only I could do that for the rest of the things on my grocery list.