I buy most of my dry goods…flours, grains, sugars, beans etc. through a food co-op. What soaps I don’t make I purchase through them, as well as a small amount of frozen and canned goods. This is not your typical way of purchasing food but I have done it for years and it works wonderfully for me.
The way my co-op works is that there are designated drop points along a delivery route, sometimes at a person’s home, a parking lot, or in my case a wide spot in the road off a highway exit. There has to be a minimum order of $550 at each drop point to warrant a delivery. Any number of buyers can make up this total with the minimum per buyer being $50. The monthly the coordinator of that particular drop point will find out approximately when the truck will be there and call all of the buyers. We meet and unload our orders from the back of a refrigerated semi-truck. Sometimes we have to split things into individual orders if we have all purchased the same thing. We visit a short time, say good-bye till next month then go home and unload our items.
Why do I bother with this? Well for two reasons, cost savings and selection. You see I live in a small town with just the bare bones selection of organic grains. Organic white flour and organic whole wheat flour…that is it. Through my co-op I purchase organic oats, rye, spelt, barley, amaranth, millet, white whole wheat, quinoa…all in grain form ready for me to grind or use whole. They have a huge selection or organic rice, popcorn, and other interesting grains. You can choose traditional, organic, or eco-farmed. You can also purchase flour, frozen fruits and veggies, canned goods, personal items, cookware, books, canning supplies, and more!
I get 50# of organic hard red wheat berries for $18.40. This will make #50 pounds of whole wheat flour at about $.37 a pound. When was the last time you bought a 5 pound bag of organic WW flour for $1.84? I cannot even touch these prices in my local supermarket let alone an expensive health food store.
I try to eat as locally as I can but living on the edge of the country in the rain belt there are many things, like most grains and beans, that we just can’t or don’t grow anywhere remotely close to here. So I must either purchase at the local market with their dismal selection and high prices or order monthly, meet the truck, unload it, and bring my purchases home from there. Well with a big family to feed it is an easy decision for me…food co-op it is!
I use Azure Standard as my food co-op, it is nation wide. How can you find a co-op? I originally found out about mine at a homeschool group, the mother’s with large families were discussing the money savings and I was intrigued. Our local feed store owner uses a co-op as does my neighbor, just ask around to see what the locals use. There of course is google! When I searched food co-op with my zip code there were many options listed.
Finding a co-op that works for you, where you live, and how you eat may take a little bit of researching and learning but the saving and selection will make the effort worth while.
So do any of you use a food co-op or any other non-traditional ways of getting your groceries?
Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids and…a camel!