Looking for new ways to eat healthier this new year? Check out co-ops for a fresh start!

Food cooperatives (a.k.a. "co-ops") are worker or customer-based businesses that provide grocery items to their members. Usually this includes fresh produce, but breads, honey, milk, eggs, flowers, meat, or herbs may be included. These cooperatives can be buying clubs or a group of families that work 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Pros

  • You get to branch out and try new foods.
  • Keeping 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 20 states, or view co-ops in your area at localharvest.org. For other ways to save on produce, including markdowns, farmers’ markets, gardening, and pick-your-own, visit this post!