Food cooperatives (a.k.a. “co-ops”) are worker or customer-based businesses that provide grocery items to their members: usually fresh produce, but breads, honey, milk, eggs, flowers, meat, or herbs may be included. These can be buying clubs or a group of families that works together to obtain fresh and mostly locally grown food at large group discount rates. Co-ops may also be called CSAs–Community Supported Agriculture–where the food is sold directly from the source or farmer.
- Many co-ops have a set basket of items each week (or every other week) and offer little to no flexibility in substitutions.
- If you have a small family, you may not be able to use all the produce in time.
- Home delivery may not be available, and pick-up times may not match your schedule or be in close proximity.
- You get to branch out and try new foods.
- Fresh produce on hand encourages healthy eating habits.
- You have a steady supply of fresh produce.
- You support local, and often organic, farming.
An example of a popular co-op is Bountiful Baskets currently available in 19 states, or you can look for co-ops in your area at localharvest.org. For other ways to save on produce, including mark-downs, farmer markets, gardening, and pick-your-own, visit this post!