What is a food coop? The first time I saw that written down I was seriously confused. A food coop? Of course, I pronounced it coop like a chicken coop. Logical right?
Well, it’s actually called a food co-op, or a food co-operation. It took me awhile to finally join one because I had to go pick up the food on a Saturday morning! I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of my Saturday morning, especially some lousy produce. I finally caved, though, and I am so glad that I did.
So, what is a food co-op? Here’s how I like to explain it: A whole bunch of people get together and buy a bunch of fruits and vegetables in bulk straight from where it grows. This makes it cheaper in two ways, 1- there is no middle man, and 2- buying in bulk is almost always cheaper. Now, the people that “get together” usually don’t physically get together. Usually you can sign up for a food co-op online. Many food co-ops get local produce, but not all of them do. Sometimes, most of the food is local, but not all of it. Check with your food co-op to find out more about where the food comes from.
If you are dedicated to buying only local produce, another great option is a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you give money to a farm in your area at the beginning of the growing season (this gives them the money they need at the beginning to buy seeds, equipment, etc.). Later, when the fruits and vegetables are harvested, you get to take home a specified amount every week, every other week, or every month. This option is typically more expensive than a food co-op, but you can guarantee that the produce is local and/or organic.
To find a food co-op in your area, just google “food co-op + your state”. There are 3 main food co-ops in my state, with a few smaller ones. The 3 main food co-ops have locations all over the state. One of them guarantees local produce. From my food co-op, I buy one share of produce every 2 weeks. It costs $32 and is plenty for my family of four for a whole month. If you are looking for a CSA, just google “CSA + your state.”
Now that I’ve gone on and on about yummy produce, let me give you the recipe for the day. This one is over $5, but it’s still “about” $5, especially if you get your produce cheaper because you have a food co-op!
Chef Salad, $5.50
½ head of chopped iceberg or romaine lettuce ($1.25)
½ lb. cubed deli ham, chicken, or turkey ($2)
2 sliced hard boiled eggs ($.20)
2 sliced carrots ($. 30)
1 sliced cucumber ($ .50)
1 sliced tomato ($ .75)
½ C of your favorite salad dressing. ($ .50)
Toss all ingredients except the dressing together. Pour salad dressing over and serve. Feel free to add some extra cheese if you have some, but the cheese does put it over my “about” $5 limit.