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Summer Is Back: Organic Food Baskets!

organic food basket

Even though they are becoming ever more popular, organic food baskets prepared by local producers are still widely unknown and their benefits, underestimated. Here are five reasons why signing up for organic food baskets is a great way to make a positive environmental contribution while saving money, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

Reason #1: Organic food baskets are affordable and even economical

Contrary to the common belief, organic food is not necessarily more expensive. In fact, if it were not the case, the share of organic food’s sales on the American market would probably not have grown from a tiny 0.5% to a respectable 3.5% between 1997 and 2008. Organic foods may not have experienced the same boom in Canada, but their current share of the market approximately makes up 2%.

One of the easiest ways to commit to organic food consumption and save money at the same time is to sign up for organic food baskets. Many local producers now offer this service, which basically consists of preparing a basket of selected fruits, veggies, and other organic-certified goodies on a weekly basis. If clients generally pick up their basket at the farm themselves, some producers set up a network of delivery spots in urban areas.

Generally ranging from $10 to $40 per week, these baskets can easily satisfy the needs of a whole family for a full week, meaning that one does not necessarily spend more for fruits and vegetables bought at the farm rather than at the grocery store. Many clients actually report getting more than what they expect for their money!

Reason #2: Organic food baskets help reduce transportation fees

Since the foods found in an organic basket are grown locally, they don’t travel across borders. This is a huge advantage for consumers because a critical parameter in determining the cost of fruits and vegetables at the supermarket is transportation. And this cost factor is not likely to go down anytime soon since energy prices are on the rise.

Therefore, the absence of shipping allows your local farmers to sell their production at a more reasonable price. One should also note that there is no intermediary: the producer also is the retailer, which means that there is only one level of intervention: that is tantamount to saying that profit is made at one level only instead of two or more.

Reason #3: Organic food baskets help cut down on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Once again, the fact that the food producer also happens to be the food retailer means that there is less mass transportation. In turn, this rhymes with less GHG emissions and less pollution. Some may want to argue that all individual consumers using their personal car to go to the farm in order to get their weekly basket offsets these gains. Well, not exactly!

For instance, when bananas have to fly over thousands of kilometres before landing and being put into trucks, which will drive for hours just to bring them to various grocery stores, one cannot say that the merchandise’s transportation is sustainable. By contrast, local farms are often located relatively close to the consumers’ homes: a few-kilometres drive suffices to pick up a basket full of foods! Some might even be able to travel the distance by bike!

The difference in GHG emissions thus cannot be neglected. Getting out of the grocery store with two tomatoes that have travelled 500 kilometres, six kiwis that have flown over an ocean, one pineapple that has crossed huge chunks of land, and ten carrots that come from a foreign country is tantamount to saying that your caddie has virtually been all over the globe! Compare that with your short ride to the farm…

Reason #4: Organic food baskets contribute to sustainable agriculture

Farming conditions in foreign countries are so far away from our reality that we cannot know for sure what happens when the crops are harvested, including the treatment that workers receive. Moreover, much of the foods available on supermarkets’ shelves are genetically modified and mass-produced, which cannot promote sustainability in the long run.

Contrary to this kind of agriculture that is not always respectful of the earth and of human dignity, organic food baskets produced at local farms are your best bridge between your plate and the field: you get to know your local producer and his or her team, you see where your food is grown, and you have the assurance that all these people’s agricultural practices are sustainable.

Reason #5: Organic food baskets promote responsible behaviour and creativity

Since organic food baskets necessarily contain in-season fruits and vegetables, this consumption habit is respectful of nature and its rhythm. Even though it can mean that your weekly basket may not be as diversified as your favourite supermarket’s shelves, this sensible production allows you to experiment new ways of cooking ingredients.

Beyond the creativity organic food baskets promote in the kitchen, they also generally induce a deep sense of responsibility to those who go get them every week. Indeed, organic food baskets’ subscribers tend to hate wasting food and prefer to cook their extra ingredients and freeze them. Less waste equals more savings…

Signing up for an organic food basket thus appears to be a very inviting financial and environmental alternative to usual supermarket consumption habits, doesn’t it?

SPF: We signed up for organic food basket on a bi-weekly basis for the summer.  Lil’ SPF has been eating organic food exclusively (in mush form) so we are excited to get some great local produce all summer!

3 thoughts on “Summer Is Back: Organic Food Baskets!

  1. We belong to a CSA and we love it. For 18 weeks through summer and fall we pick up a weekly allotment of local grown organic produce. It tastes amazing and I love the feeling of supporting local businesses. We just picked up our first share this week.

  2. A vegetarian friend who owns an organic farm paid a visit last week and brought some of their harvested vegetables. I should admit that they tasted better than those grown from farms that use insecticides and chemicals. Furthermore, she also explained that organic vegetables are a lot cheaper because they do not spend much on fertilizers and insecticides as they are “home-grown”.

  3. There are some issue that need to be pointed out in the post.

    2. Organic food baskets help reduce transportation fees. Economies of scale dictate it’s cheaper to move a lot of things once, than a few things a lot. A lot of small trucks shipping baskets is actually more expensive than big shipments to grocery stores.
    3. Organic food baskets help cut down on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I’m not really sure what part of Canada bananas and pineapples can grow naturally any GHG reduction would be offset keeping the plants alive. Again economies of scale are being ignored.

    Further to that point, the author ignores the input costs. For instance, The average acre of land in Ontario can produce about 7,000 strawberries a year. in California, you can produce 7 times that amount. Short of the actually picking, the Ontario farmer actually needs to use more energy and more pesticides and fertilizer (organic or otherwise) PER ACRE to grow those berries. In point of fact, along the chain, transportation costs (monetary and environmentally) are dwarfed by input and production costs.

    His thinking is akin to driving an electric car because it’s clean, but the electricity is produced at a coal fired plant.

    The author also seems to confuse “Organic” with “Local” The two aren’t mutually inclusive.

    Do you like cherries? Peaches? Apples? Too bad. There aren’t any in Ontario this year. An April frost decimated stone fruits. Cherries are a 100% loss, apples about 85%, same for peaches.

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