For me, the hardest part of eating healthy is vegetables. And the thing is, I love vegetables! But I frequently am not sure how to cook them or even what to buy. And forget about figuring out if they're "ripe" or "ready" or whatever vegetables do. And honestly, I don't go grocery shopping frequently enough to constantly have fresh vegetables on hand. But I always feel better when I'm regularly eating veggies (and they're a huge part of the Game On Diet).
That's why signing up for produce delivery from Farm Fresh to You has been SO GREAT. Every other Friday morning, a box of fresh organic produce shows up at my door--along with suggested recipes!
There's some debate over whether Farm Fresh to You is "a good deal." Without question, the produce is more expensive than buying at your typical grocery store. You're paying for all-organic, locally-grown produce that hasn't been rifled through by other shoppers. If money's tight, those perks might not make a CSA (community supported agriculture) box worth the cost. (However, I've included a cost comparison at the bottom of this post that you may find intriguing.)
What makes a CSA box such a good deal for me is that I ACTUALLY EAT FRESH FRUIT AND VEGGIES. I always intend to make a meal plan and do a well-thought-out grocery shopping trip, but more often than not I stop at Ralph's because my milk expired and I figure oh hell, I better pick up all the other stuff I need. Then I find myself standing in the vegetable aisle, wondering if it's hard to cook squash or eggplant or jicama DO YOU EVEN COOK JICAMA--and finally just grabbing a bag of mixed greens in an overwhelmed huff. And then bee-lining it to the alcohol.
So a CSA box is worth the extra cost, and in my opinion, Farm Fresh to You has done a great job of addressing every major concern I ever had with a produce delivery service:
- Customizable. You can now dictate exactly what you want in your box!
- Cost-effective. Yes, sometimes the produce is more expensive via Farm Fresh to You than in the grocery store or at a farmers' market. But, because you can customize it, you can opt not to receive expensive produce and only select for more affordable stuff. (And if you use code CARZ4157 you can get $10 off your first box!)
- Convenient. Want someone to do the work for you? Set it and forget it! Farm Fresh to You will select the season's best produce to put in your box, and it will be like Christmas morning every time you open it to see what's inside.
- Great selection. Sometimes I take for granted how lucky I am to live in California, where almost all kinds of produce are available at all times of the year. There's almost TOO MUCH to choose from.
- Variety. I love how Farm Fresh to You tells me what's in season--part of keeping vegetables interesting to me is switching it up based on what's available at that time of year.
- Flexible scheduling. You can choose to receive weekly, biweekly, every 3 weeks, or even only once a month! AND, if for ANY REASON you decide you don't want your box that week, you can simply put it on hold! And you don't pay for boxes you don't receive!
- Box options. Not only can you customize the hell out of what's IN your box and WHEN you get it, you can customize the SIZE and TYPE of your box! Got a family of four and no time to cook? Opt for a large box of "No Cooking Required" fruits and vegetables! Single and Game On'ing (like me)? Get a small box of just veggies!
This week, I received rainbow carrots, broccolini, globe artichokes, a Bartlett pear, a Gravenstein apple, live green butter lettuce, Romaine lettuce, and an herbal drink kit that included rosemary, mint, and edible flowers. (Check out my post on my favorite way to prepare artichokes here!) Two weeks ago, I got the most delicious red plums I've ever eaten--and they're still good!
I did a quick cost-comparison at Ralph's. They did not have rainbow carrots (so I just took into account regular organic carrots), organic artichokes (subbed regular artichokes), broccolini, Gravenstein apples, butter lettuce, or edible flowers. Organic carrots, a Bartlett pear, a Fuji apple, romaine, non-organic artichokes, mint, and rosemary equaled $17. Let's be generous and assume you can get organic versions of all the stuff they didn't have for $5. That's $22. Add $2 for tax and it comes out to $24.
My box this week cost $30. Buying it all separately at Ralph's would have been slightly cheaper, but I didn't have to leave my house. And I didn't need to find parking at my local farmers' market! And let's be honest...the hands of a picky public weren't all over my fruits 'n veggies testing for freshness. It's a difference of $3 each week--for me, that's worth it.
They've got a great recipe search engine, too, with the option to browse by ingredient! So say you're not quite sure what to do with the baby bok choy you got in your box this week--they've got ya covered!
A major key to making any CSA box cost-effective is proper storage of your produce once you get it. You don't want to leave it on your doorstep for too long (they drop off by like 6am so usually I'm still asleep when it shows up), and once you get it inside you want to follow the incredibly helpful guidelines on the FFTY website for storing all the different items. Honestly, since I've started packing my items like the website tells me to, NOTHING I've gotten from Farm Fresh to You has gone bad before I've had a chance to eat it (while PLENTY of my Ralph's stuff has).
Finally, it's good to bear in mind that this IS organic, fresh produce. It's not the sterile, waxy stuff you get from the grocery store. That means your carrots will still be dirty from being pulled out of the soil--just gotta scrub them well. However, I had a run of like three boxes in a row last year where my lacinato kale was COVERED with aphids. And those things are stupid-stubborn and would NOT wash off. Farm Fresh to You, fortunately, has WONDERFUL customer service. They gave me credit for the kale and I was able to get something different every time (I finally gave up on ordering kale).
Overall, I've just been really happy with my experience and I get really excited every time I realize it's almost time for my box to show up. If you're interested in checking out Farm Fresh to You, don't forget to use code CARZ4157 when you sign up--you'll get $10 off your first box! And if you feel like it's not worth it for you, you can cancel at any time. Happy vegetable-ing!