What is Bountiful Baskets?
I was sitting at work the other day eating lunch. One of my co-workers looked over and said “You always pack a healthy lunch, and you always make the best looking salads.” I replied, “I have Bountiful Baskets in my fridge, so I throw everything in that looks good and a great looking salad appears!” She and a couple others sitting there all asked, “What is Bountiful Baskets?” I am always surprised at how many people around me have never heard of Bountiful Baskets. I was introduced to the food co-op about two years ago. I participated in something similar when our family lived in Arizona in 2005, but on a smaller scale. Let me tell you what Bountiful Baskets is and how it came to be.
What is Bountiful Baskets?
Most people hear the term ‘Bountiful Baskets’ and assume it all started in Bountiful, Utah, when in reality, the term, ‘Bountiful Baskets’ refers to the amount of produce rather than the location. The Bountiful Baskets Co-op was founded in Phoenix, Arizona by Sally Stevens and Tanya Jolley in May of 2006. For $15 you get a basket full of half fruit and half vegetables of different varieties each week. This amount of produce typically retails for about $50 in the grocery store. Tanya and Sally both had experience running their own small food co-ops in the Phoenix area, a lot like I experienced in my Phoenix neighborhood. As their small co-ops grew it challenged them to think of a way to keep up as more families wanted to join and save money on healthy food. Adding a little bit of e-commerce technology to the mix was just the trick. Since May of 2006 Bountiful Baskets has grown from 2 sites and an average of 120 families each week, to hundreds of sites in 16 states and countless participating families. Sally and Tanya are not in this to make money. They are here to help our families eat healthy foods at affordable prices. This food co-op is run 100% by volunteers. They rely on the participants to keep it going.
How to Order a Bountiful Basket
Participating in Bountiful Baskets is easy! You can go to the website www.bountifulbaskets.org and create an account. Monday mornings you log onto the site, and order a basket for $15. There is a credit card fee of $1.50 with each transaction. There are other offerings such as extra cases of fruits, whole grain breads, granola, and extra vegetable packs. You can add those at affordable prices. You may also order up to 3 baskets with each account. When ordering you will choose a location near you, then on Saturday morning you go to that location to pick up your order. Be sure to take your confirmation number and an empty laundry basket with you.
The Benefits of Bountiful Baskets
Bountiful Baskets has been a great thing for our family. We are eating more healthy foods because they are available all the time. This co-op continues throughout the whole year. I love that I am not obligated to buy a basket every week. If I know I’ll be out of town or we have too much produce in the house one week, I just skip it. If we have to throw some of the produce out that’s gone to waste, I don’t feel too bad, because I only spent $16.50 on $50 worth of produce. In the summer I tend to skip every other week since I grow a vegetable garden. It works very well with what I plant at home. The first time we got artichokes in the basket all my kids groaned. I had never prepared artichokes, but at the co-op I got advice on how to steam and serve them. My kids tried them and now my two youngest consistently ask if I will buy artichokes. They are their favorite meal. When we get artichokes in the basket the boys jump up and down and can hardly wait to eat them. I’ve also found that if I place the fruit in bowls and leave them on the counter, my boys will eat those first before looking through the pantry to find crackers, chips, and fruit snacks. I don’t buy fruit snacks anymore because they are so expensive and not as good for my family as a piece of fresh fruit. The kids will always eat the fruits and vegetables I peel, cut, and leave on the table. Kids like what is fast and easy to grab, so as a parent you will need to spend a little more time preparing the produce for them to eat. It’s worth it to me to spend that extra time peeling and cutting so that my kids have a better snack or meal. I find that I plan my meals around what I get in my basket for the week instead of planning the main dish and then putting a fruit or vegetable with it. I think we are eating healthier meals because of it.
How to Keep Produce Fresh Longer
On a side note, you may want to invest in a Tupperware produce keeper for your fridge. These containers are long and narrow and fit very well on a refrigerator shelf. They are built with vents or divets on the bottom to keep moisture off the bottom of the produce. The seal keeps water in the produce so it stays more crisp than it would keep in the crisper in the bottom of your fridge. I can keep lettuce and celery in those containers for 3-4 weeks before it goes bad. It’s been a great investment as it keeps the produce fresh longer. I have two containers filled with produce in my fridge most of the time. I receive so much in my basket that I also have to put some of it in my crisper in the bottom of the fridge, but I have learned what keeps for a longer time there.
Give Bountiful Baskets a try. I think you’ll love it!