For me, where my produce comes from and how it was grown has started to become a more important factor in my purchasing. This was not always the case. Growing up, I always remember my food coming from the grocery store. Sometimes we got fresh produce, sometimes we got canned or frozen produce. I remember knowing that some stores had “better” (in terms of taste/ripeness) produce than others, but that was the extent of my thinking on produce. After I got married, I lived in an area with a fantastic chain of grocery stores. This grocery store puts an emphasis on bringing in local produce when possible and labeling where all their produce comes from. When we lived near this store, I did not realize how amazing this was.
After becoming more immersed in globalization theory, seeing research on how globalization impacts our food, and realizing how this puts many people, especially those in the global south on the lower end of a power relationship, I was really compelled to be more conscious of where my food comes from. Where we are currently living, it is really hard to find local produce. The area isn’t great for growing and the farmer’s market only runs for four months of the year (sometimes five months, depending on weather and harvest amounts). The Farmer’s Market’s selection is incredibly limited. Not surprisingly, the grocery stores here also have very limited produce selections.
As I was working through these issues, a friend introduced me to a Co-op/program called Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets has locations all over the US. You “contribute” via a credit or debit card payment on their website on Monday and then are able to pick up a basket of mystery produce the following Saturday. The pickup times vary, the pickup window is only 20 minutes, and I often have to plan my Saturday around it. The price is very reasonable, they buy straight from the farmer – not from a middle man, and they try to purchase in the region where the food is distributed. The region is a pretty loose term. I think our site gets food from three neighboring states, but its certainly a shorter distance than crops being imported from overseas. Bountiful basket hasn’t been the perfect answer, but in terms of what I’ve been able to access where I live, I feel like it’s an improvement in quality of produce, variety of produce, and origin of produce.
I’m also trying to grow some of my own plants, but the learning curve has been pretty brutal…
What factors contribute to how you buy produce?
Do you think about where your produce is coming from or the conditions of those growing it?
What kind of legwork do you do to change your access to food?