My mom has been participating in a produce co-op for the last couple of years. It's called Bountiful Baskets. Each location has deliveries every other week (or every week) of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some locations even offer options for organic produce and freshly-baked breads.
Anyone who wants to participate pays $15 on the Bountiful Baskets website (plus a $1.50 handling fee, and a $3 fee for first-timers.) Families can decide whether or not to contribute before each delivery date--there is no requirement to participate at any particular frequency. The produce is delivered somewhere (such as a school parking lot), where volunteers sort it. At 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday, participants show up, put their produce in their own bags or baskets, and take it home. Easy!
I was so excited to hear that not only was Bountiful Baskets coming to my area; it was coming to a suburb near me, with a pick-up location about 10 minutes from my house! I've now participated three times, and overall I've been quite happy with the quantity, variety, and quality of produce I've gotten.
My produce on 11/19/11:
My produce on 01/28/12:
My produce on 02/25/12:
It's been fun to find recipes for some types of vegetables that I don't usually buy. I'd never before made Brussels Sprouts, but this Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe turned me into a believer! (With cream, bacon, butter, bread crumbs and cheese, it may not be the healthiest way to eat your veggies, but boy was it fantastic!) And I don't often make cauliflower, but Chickie and I both enjoyed munching on these baked Cauliflower Poppers.
When I picked up my basket on Saturday, I got home and immediately made a delicious fruit salad with strawberries, pineapple, apples, and oranges.
Tonight I'm planning to try this yellow squash recipe.
Bountiful Baskets is really a cool way to get a bargain on fruits and vegetables--and to get some produce that you might not be in the habit of buying. The locations are limited, but you can check to see if Bountiful Baskets is available in your area by visiting their website.