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Home Delivery Options for Organic Produce and Bulk Food Items in West Virginia

My family loves to eat. More specifically, we love to eat organic food from as close to home as possible, as inexpensively as possible and as conveniently as possible. Since we live in out-in-the-sticks West Virginia, I quickly tired of driving thirty minutes to an hour several times a week to buy fresh produce and 160 miles round trip to buy organic bulk food. I found a solution in several companies that do home delivery at a reasonable, if not reduced cost.

We first tried Door to Door Organics (www.doortodoororganics.com). This company serves most of the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as several other locations in the United States. The subscription service allows customers to choose the size box and frequency of delivery that suits their needs. Boxes come in a variety of sizes and can be a mix of seasonal fruits and vegetables or just fruits or just vegetables, and can be delivered weekly or bi-weekly. If you are in the delivery area, company refrigerated trucks deliver produce to a cooler at your door. If you are not in the delivery area, and we were not, UPS delivers the produce in an insulated box. Our experience with Door to Door Organics was excellent. I received a reminder email every Friday with a menu for the following week’s box. I had the chance to substitute up to three different choices from a list if there were fruits or veggies that my family didn’t want. I could also make a profile, where I could make a list of produce that I never wanted. For instance, my family hates red delicious apples, so I made a rule on my profile that that kind of apple should never show up on our menu, and the box assemblers would automatically substitute galas or golden delicious instead. The customer service at Door to Door Organics was remarkable as well. My phone calls and emails were always answered by a real person in the rare event that I had a problem. They also stand behind their products. Though they technically can’t be responsible if UPS roughly handles the boxes, when I had delicate produce mashed a few times, Door to Door gave me a credit and I got extra produce of my choice in the next box. There is also a custom order option, where customers can assemble their own boxes from a list with whatever regularity (or irregularity) they choose. I found that the prices were not as reasonable doing it this way, and the custom boxes were subject to shipping charges, whereas the subscription boxes were not. The other thing I loved about Door to Door Organics was there was no commitment at all. I could stop or start the box at any time, and could also suspend the box for periods of time when I wouldn’t be home, such as during vacations. The recurrent billing was accurate and made my life easier as well. I was spending a huge portion of our grocery budget on produce, so with boxes starting at $39, this was definitely a reasonably priced option for having organic produce delivered to my home.

The second option for home delivery of natural or organic foods is a co-op. I had heard of co-ops in the past, but I had never seriously looked into ordering from one until I moved to the aforementioned on-top-of-the-mountain, slide-off-the-road-in-winter town in rural West Virginia. In order to get the best prices on non-perishable organic food items, I buy bulk. However, driving 160 miles round trip to find these bulk items meant that I had better have a thorough list, since dropping my supper preparations and dashing to retrieve something I had forgotten was not an option. As my family grew to include two babies, having food delivered to my home became a sanity saver. I first ordered a few items (large quantities of grain berries for grinding my grains for bread and baked goods) through a friend who introduced me to Frankferd Farms (www.frankferd.com). Usually a co-op works by a number of families all placing their respective orders with a host or coordinator, who then places the collective order with the company and receives delivery of the items. The coordinator can also order large quantities and split it among the families. This works well for smaller families who want the excellent price that comes with ordering a large amount of food but doesn’t want 200 pounds of oatmeal. In this way, the host can order several hundred pounds of a food item and everyone benefits from the best bulk price but the burden of storage isn’t on one family. After I did this a couple times, I found ordering through a middleman and driving to someone else’s house at a time that was convenient for them, but not necessarily for me, aggravating if not well-nigh unto impossible. So I contacted Frankferd Farms. The office staff were helpful and friendly. They told me that as long as I ordered over $350 worth of items, they would deliver directly to my door and there was no need for a middleman. I know that $350 is a large outlay at one time, but I only order a few times a year, since I have a large pantry as well as freezer space. The experience has been wonderful. I choose my items from an extensive catalog, call or email the order, and am told when to expect my delivery. I have the option of pre-payment or paying the driver upon delivery. My orders arrive on time (the drivers call a few hours ahead of time so I can be there to receive the shipments) and the drivers bring the boxes into my house or garage and go over the packing list with me so we could make sure I have received everything. I have ordered everything from fifteen pounds of raw organic cheese, to twenty-five pounds of raw peanuts for making peanut butter, to ten pounds of coffee, and much more. Frankferd Farms also offers any number of organic and natural hygiene and household items such as toothpaste and laundry soap. The selection is vast. Sometimes the price of a certain food is about the same as I would pay at the natural food market 160 miles away (but who can put a price tag on convenience?), and other times, the price is drastically lower. Obviously, convenience or pre-packaged organic and natural foods are expensive whether you buy them in large or small quantities, but the huge savings come in with whole foods items like bulk beans, grains, and even dairy.

The benefits of eating organic are too numerous for this article, but it is certainly not beyond my scope to briefly discuss the benefits of buying from local companies and co-ops like the two mentioned here. Both Door to Door Organics and Frankferd Farms do their best to use local farms and offer seasonal and local produce and food items. One of the most apparent benefits is that the food is fresh. The produce has not sat in a truck for two weeks before it gets to my refrigerator, and the breads and tortillas are made close by and delivered newly baked. Buying local supports local economy and small farmers and businesses. Door to Door uses small local farmers, who often get trampled by large commercial farms. Frankferd Farms is a family business that depends on nearby farmers as well as “cottage” industries to supply them with fresh bulk and baked goods. Finally, the shorter the distance a food comes to my doorstep, the better it is for the environment. While having fruit delivered from 150 miles away isn’t as “local” as my hometown, it certainly offers a larger variety without using the fuel required to ship my apples from the West Coast, or even from New Zealand, which is where the organic apples come from at the grocery store.

Oh, and did I mention having organic produce and bulk food items delivered to my door is convenient? I love it that convenience and doing what’s good for my wallet, my community, and the environment don’t always have to be mutually exclusive.

Baraka Sarana Tama