Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week's Organic Produce Share

About 10 years ago, I joined an organic produce co-op in my area called Purple Dragon Co-Op that provides its members with a diverse selection of quality, seasonal organic produce purchased directly from local and regional farmers. The founder of the co-op basically acts as the distributor or liaison between local and regional organic farmers and the members by purchasing a selection of produce from the various farms based on what's available and also making sure the biweekly selection offers a wide variety of produce. Produce from more distant farms is purchased when items such as bananas are simply not grown in our region or when our area farms are not in season.

The co-op is made up of numerous groups in communities throughout the area--I believe there are about 60 right now. Each group receives enough produce to be divided into 15 equal shares. Every other week, boxes of fresh produce that were harvested and packed at the farms just a day or two prior are delivered to the groups' pick-up locations-- which in my case, is my co-ordinator's garage. My group's co-ordinator also happens to be a close friend of mine and it's through her that I discovered the co-op many years ago when our first children were just babies. Members of the group then take turns scheduling a delivery date to come to her garage at 9 am to sort the food into the fifteen equal shares for each member and get a monetary credit that day for "working" the co-op.

A few years ago I took a break from the co-op and gave up my spot for a year or more when home life got really hectic and I found I was wasting food that spoiled before I got around to cooking it. Then in the summer of 2008, I helped my friend out by being a sub in her group when members went away on vacation. I realized how much I missed the diverse selection of produce that came in the share and how fresh everything was. Not to mention it made me realize I wasn't buying and therefore eating the same quantity of vegetables on my own than when I was in the co-op. Since the co-op groups are designed for exactly fifteen members, there is often a wait list to get into the group in your area. Lucky for me, by the end of that summer there was an opening, and I was able to rejoin as a regular member again. So with my renewed interest in the co-op and the fact that I have a gorgeous new kitchen that's so much more fun to cook in, I'm more excited than ever to be a part of my organic co-op again.

Here's a photo of the produce that came in last Thursday's share. From left to right, starting at the top: kale, two heads of romaine lettuce, carrots, purple bell peppers, butternut squash, gala apples, bananas, yellow cherry tomatoes, broccoli, edamame, cantaloupe, red thumb potatoes, concord grapes and green cabbage. All produce is from local NY and PA farms except for the cantaloupe, carrots and bananas.

click on image to enlarge

If you brought home this share, which item would appeal to you the most?
Is there anything you haven't tried before?
Which would you like to see a recipe for?


  1. Hmm, yum, it all looks good.

    I would use the squash and potatoes and make my curry dish with tomatoes.

    I can send you the recipe if you like.

    It's delicious.

  2. Yummy - apples in a scrumptious apple pie.

    I luv bananas, and carrots...

    Nice assortment Christine - my mouth is watering!


  3. It looks all good :D and it's definitively a great deal for you :D

  4. Michelle, you said the magic word: curry! I love anything curry... Indian food is one of my absolute favorite ethnic foods! Yum! I'd love to try your recipe. Thanks! : )

    Thanks, Lea! We eat a lot of bananas, so I end up buying more at the grocery store between co-op shares. My husband and teen are allergic to raw apples, so I do end up baking a lot of apple desserts throughout the year. Yum!

    Hiya, nath! All those fruits and veggies sure make a beautiful picture, don't they? I still have some concord grapes left and every time I open the fridge I can smell their deliciousness! Mmm!

  5. I would try the kale and yellow tomatoes. I've heard of these sorts of things before, the co-op, but have no clue if there's such a thing in out area or not.

    The local Publix I go to has some great fruits and veggies, but I could stand for the variety to vary a little more.

  6. I love the sound of the organic co-op - fresh fruit and vegetables, grown organically, and you're supporting local farmers :) Here, farmers' markets are becoming more popular.

    I actually have a vegetable garden, which I'm hoping to plant once the weather improves - it is currently pouring and thunderstorms are expected. And yes, it's spring here!

    Hmmm..I'd love to know what to do with the edamame...and I'm always on the look-out for a good curry recipe :)

  7. Wow that looks great. I would love it ALL except for the peppers. Not a fan of those unless my mom is making them stuffed. :)

  8. I'm a very picky eater and until I got pregnant wasn't big into veggies and fruit. So I'd have to say that a lot of the stuff on your list I've never tried. Kale, purple bell peppers, butternut squash, gala, edamame are all on my, never had them before list. Although I did just see an amazing recipe for butternut squash in my Parenting mag and was going to pick some up to give it a try.

    Gratz on the co-op again. My in-laws are part of one and really seem to like it.

  9. Kmont, I recipe for 'kale chips' came with the 'newsletter' that comes with our share and I set it aside thinking I might try it. I pretty much saute my greens with olive oil and garlic every single darned time. I'll let you know if I try it.

    I think the variety of produce is what keeps me in the co-op the most. It pretty much forces me to eat all this stuff whereas if I was at the grocer buying my veggies, I'd just buy the same five ones over and over all year long.

    orannia, I can't wait to do my vegetable garden again in the spring. As I've said before, I haven't had one in two years (or is it more?) because of the construction, so it'll be great to be at it again next year.

    The edamame are fun to eat just by steaming or boiling them in salted water, then popping them out of their 'shells' and into your mouth! Or um... into a bowl to serve to the family. ;)

    Tracy, I'm not big on green peppers... and the purple ones taste just like the green ones, so I end up sneaking them in other recipes here and there. Red, orange and yellow peppers, I love.

    Christina, I definitely became better at the vegetable thing when I got pregnant for the first time (over 15 years ago!) and have thankfully stayed on the veggie train since then.

    I hope you like the butternut squash. It really is yummy. I'm cooking mine for dinner tonight.

    I never had kale before I started the co-op. It's similar to spinach in taste. Sort of. And it's so hardy, it lasts for a while in the fridge before wilting or yellowing, not like spinach that starts wilting and rotting in a day.

    Come back and let me know if you prepare the squash and how you like it. :)

  10. Yeah, for some reason the way my mom makes the stuffed green peppers I can eat them but other than that - no. Not sure I could even stick them in a recipe! lol


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