I’m a conflicted consumer. I love the variety and deals you can get at the “big box” stores. But I also love the unique things and family feel at a mom and pop shop.
Can we all co-exist? Yes, as long as you recognize value in both. I’m a big supporter of small and local businesses as long as they meet my requirements of good service, good products, fair prices.
That’s the consumer side of me.
Now for the environmentalist side. I think grocery bags are a huge waste of resources. However, I always forget to bring my reusable bags to the store with me. I prefer to eat organic everything but sometimes the produce doesn’t look as good or is just too darn expensive. So I guess I’m a conflicted environmentalist as well. But I’ve been working on that.
Last year, I attended a Tupperware party (confession: I am a Tupperware junkie) where we got to talking about the Fridgesmart containers. I love these containers because they are built to keep fruits and veggies extra fresh for extra long. As I’m talking to the woman next to me, she starts telling me about a local fruit and vegetable service called Papa Spud’s.
I was intrigued. You pay one price, order whatever fruits and vegetables you want from locally grown farms, and have them delivered to your doorstep. That actually made eating healthy sound a little fun. But alas, they did not deliver to my area yet. So I waited and checked back with them a few month later. BINGO!
Every Friday, I get an email telling me that the order system is open and available. Everyone is given a default order based on your specified likes and dislikes. If you forget to place your order (which I’ve done), you at least have something coming your way. You go online and pick and choose what you want based on the number of credits you have available to spend (usually 20 credits per week). I usually stick to the fruits and vegetables although they do have locally made products like salsa and breads and cakes.
Now you’re thinking, okay, so I can pick out some produce online. What’s the big deal? Glad you asked. Here are the big benefits for me:
- You get to see exactly what fruits and vegetables are in season right now. You would be surprised what we have at our grocery stores that should probably never be there.
- You get to pick locally grown produce and know exactly where it’s coming from. The actual farm name. You can even pick some carefully sourced out of state items that you just won’t find here.
- You get to choose if you want organic or conventional. Organic usually costs more but it’s worth it for some things to me (like berries).
- You get to see what produce is pesticide-free.
- You get to pick things you’ve never heard of nor eaten in your life (fun, if you are an adventurous eater).
So far, I’ve tried blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, valencia oranges, pears, plums (coming this week), Pink Lady apples (my afternoon snack today). Now for the veggies. Here’s where it gets interesting. I’ve tried tomatoes, Beauregard sweet potatoes, elephant green garlic, baby red beets, red chard, green beans, pattypan squash, zucchini, kohlrabi, and more. Some hits, some missed. But I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of my order.
Here’s what I like even better. The story behind Papa Spud’s.
The company was started by Rob Meyer and his high school friend, Ben Stone (both from Raleigh, NC). After he graduated college, Rob joined the U.S. Peace Corps, and spent 2.5 years in Quito, Ecuador. There, he worked mainly in a large market in one of the more impoverished areas of the city, running educational projects with street children and their families. He spent a lot of time talking with mothers in the market that sold produce, meat, or other food products. He learned a lot about how their local food infrastructure worked, and just enjoyed the idea and processes behind a direct farm to community system of distribution.
Papa Spud’s basically started as an experiment to simply see this concept might catch on locally. And catch on, it has. It’s been steadily growing for the past 2 years.
The other aspect that got me excited was when I asked Rob about how Papa Spud’s helps minimize waste. The amount of produce that gets wasted in this country is really an abomination. Rob told me that the vast majority of products that they sell are still in the fields when they are listed on their website.
But it’s not all cherries and tomatoes. There is a lot of work behind every order. “We have developed a pretty robust administrative side to our website that follows ordering trends in our community, and is able to provide very accurate ordering projections to our partners before the majority of the orders are ever placed. Our partners then harvest, bake, etc. just enough to fill our members’ orders. We do still end up with small surpluses on some products, but it is easy to redistribute those products through a “firesale” at the end of the week. The few unused products we have after that are simply donated to charity, while still in very good, fresh condition.”
I just love the idea and I love finding new ways to eat my fruits and veggies!
Don’t live in the Raleigh area? Don’t be sad. I thought of you too.
Now, it’s your turn. How are you getting your fruits and veggies? And since we all need more, tell me what’s on your “I’d love to eat,” “I’d love to try,” and “I just can’t stand” list of fruits and veggies.