Monday, March 2, 2009

Nutrition and Community

My favorite day of every month is known quite affectionately as Distribution Day. I am a member of the Community Food Co-Op of Utah and on the last Saturday of the month I walk to my local distribution center (about 2 or 3 blocks from my home) and pick up a wonderful array of food. On these special Saturdays I can expect to pick up a healthy assortment of fresh fruits and veggies along with some grains, too. This month I was happy to bring home:
  • 1 loaf of locally made whole wheat bread
  • 1 5 lb. bag of red potatoes
  • 1 lb. of brown rice
  • 1 package of Utah's Own mushrooms
  • 8 kiwis
  • 6 apples
  • 6 oranges
  • 2 bunches of green onions
  • 1 bunch of red leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • and, my favorite treat this month, 4 artichokes!
And what did I pay for this beautiful bounty of healthy foods? $14. Can you believe it? I have been ordering food from the Co-Op for almost 3 years now, and I still can't believe it sometimes.

The mission of the Community Food Co-Op of Utah is to "provide quality, healthy food at a substantial savings through cooperative purchasing; and to build a sense of community and to promote volunteer service." The Co-op is for anybody and everybody. The catch? There is a one-time membership fee, of which value you may choose, and then each month you must volunteer 2 hours of your time. The Co-op provides many opportunities to do so and through their needs the Co-op community is built. But, if you can't volunteer with Co-op and already volunteer with another organization, then that counts too. It just has to be 2 hours of your time volunteered for a cause other than for members of your family.

Since I'm a vegetarian, I always order the Harvest Share. But, for the meat-eaters the Standard share comes with plenty of good meat from local butchers. There are all kinds of add-ons that you can get with your order, too. For instance, this month I purchased some local fresh apple cider for $2. They have team sites all over the Wasatch Front, from Park City to Tooele from Ogden to Nephi, where you can pick up your orders. (And if you don't live along the Wasatch Front, I'm sure there is a similar service in your area. I encourage you to find out.) I think this is a fantastic system for tackling some of the issues that concern me such as healthy eating and getting to know your neighbors.

One of my favorite things about the Co-Op is that we don't just get apples, oranges, and bananas every month. We get different things, depending on the season. Tomatoes, corn, squash, and peaches come in the late summer and fall from local growers. This month we received artichokes, which proved to be an exciting adventure as I have never even thought of buying and cooking an entire artichoke. (Which is DELICIOUS, by the way.) Sometimes we even get eggplant. Participating in the Co-Op has definitely inadvertently expanded my taste buds' appetite and my cooking abilities over the years.

So, if you want to purchase a healthy balance of foods for the next month (and embark upon a peregrination of the palate), I suggest you print out an order form, find a pick-up near you, and enjoy!

Note: If you are thinking about trying this out, order forms are due by March 13th!


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