It arrived. The rubber tubs grey and low, easy to hold. Two of them, filled with fresh, vegetables the shine as bright as the rainbow. Smiling I remember how much I look forward to my weekly deliveries knowing that I no longer have the worry of wondering. Wondering if my organic is safe to eat. Wondering where it came from and what it contains.
It wasn’t long ago that I had the worlds biggest rant after finding out that the USDA had approved a list of pesticides deemed safe for organic farming. Yes, that pretty much did it for me. I spoke to a few of local grocers and Trader Joes, who could not guarantee all their foods were grown without the use of any pesticide nor could they guarantee my food GMO free. “But ” you say ” Organic is GMO free ” . That’s right, but there is a catch. While the seeds planted is non GMO, Some major organic growers cannot vouch for the complete absence of GMO contamination due to some wind draft etc. It was time to wake up and find local growers that were still true to the organic growing practices craved so much.
I have used food coops for the past 7yrs, as a means of getting discounts on my organic bulk foods mainly, and due to their sustainable practices. I would say over the last 2 years, I have not been as committed to them as my main source of food as I got lazy and time got the better of me. While I still purchased organic foods, I found going to my nearest grocer more sustainable and convenient .
Food Cooperatives are what you would refer to as consumers cooperatives. What that means is that it is owned by the consumers and managed in a democratic manner, by meeting and fulfilling the needs of all it’s members. As a member of a food cooperative, you are a shareholder in the organisation and the best part, your opinions and concerns count. All food coops follow Rochdales’ Principals: Voluntary and open memberships, anti discrimination, motivation and rewards, autonomy and independence, democratic member control, concern for the community, provide information eduction and training, and finally cooperation of cooperatives with themselves.
With these values, it makes things a little easier knowing that when you pick something off the shelf or purchase fresh foods that each item has been scrutinized and chosen with all your concerns in mind. (see link to all food cooperatives inside and outside the USA at end of this article)
The organic box deliveries
Local deliveries of organic produce to your door direct from local organic farmers. Now they are fantastic, they usually only supply fresh local grown but will also seek foods from other states when needed. Unlike the cooperatives, non perishable goods are rarely available, but this too can vary from country to country, so it is best to check with them. Making a decision on who to choose can be very tricky. Not all organic box suppliers follow the same policies as food coops, but many come close. The idea is that they develop a first hand relationship with local farmers and provide on seasonal foods as they are available, whiles keeping the prices low. Some have boxes to choose from, whiles others allow individual purchases. Substitutions are allowed making life a little easier if you are not the eggplant type and would prefer more carrots in your box. Either way, it is a cheaper, easier and trustworthy alternative to the shopping cart or pick your own.
When choosing which company to go with, a good start is a phone call. Asking questions with your concerns. You can also have a look at their sites which often list their farmers whom you can call directly and speak with. This creates a direct relationship between you and your local farmers. A wonderful way to build trust.
With no contracts, you can book yourself your first box which can be delivered directly to your door or at a drop spot near you.
Eating partially organic
So being realistic, not everyone can do the coop or a box delivery after all or at least for now. Getting to your weekly farmers market or using a CSA is also an alternative. You still get to know your farmers, you know what you are getting, you buy from who you feel most comfortable with and those closest to your way of thinking.
Aiming GMO free – look for the orange butterly.
I’ll make this quick. Trying to stay GMO free is harder than one might think, even with labeling. At current the main GMO plant products are wheat, sougham, corn, soybean, cottonseed and canola. The only way to stay 100% free of GMO foods is to never eat out in your life again. A little dramatic I know.
If you are lucky enough to live outside of the United States where most foods containing GMO ingredients are labelled, than you need not worry about this, however, for those of us that call the US our home, there are options. Get to know the NON GMO project. Look for the orange butterfly. Yes, this non profit is your go to for all brands verified GMO free or in the process of verification. This way you can guarantee that you are getting clean food. Most brands do not use their labels on the shelf at your local supermarket so utilizing this site is a good way to reach for your brand that is safe of GMO products guarantee. (see link to NON GMO project at end of this article)
As I unpack my boxes of lush greens and vibrant fruit, I feel a sense of ownership in my informed decision to keep free and clean. Knowing that in the next 5 years things may change yet again and I will be forced to re evaluate and make new decisions on what we eat, but until than shareholding is for me.
Food Co op Directory (world wide) – http://www.coopdirectory.org/directory.htm
NON GMO project – http://www.nongmoproject.org/
National Cooperative Grocer Association -https://www.ncga.coop/