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Boston Organics

hannah karpman Mar 20, 2008 03:48 PM

Ah! I was so disappointed in Boston Organics! I was really excited to try them for the first time and the produce was ick! I'm going to e mail them and give them one more shot and Ill keep you posted. Anyone tried diamond organics (though they are expensive!).

Also, just joined Stillman's CSA. Any tips?


  1. almansa Mar 20, 2008 05:42 PM

    I'll just chip in that the carbon footprint of a business like Boston organics is huge.

    1 Reply
    1. re: almansa
      powella Mar 21, 2008 05:45 AM

      A bigger carbon footprint than shopping at a large grocery store like S and S or WF? When we joined BO we tried to reason this out for ourselves, and BO seemed slightly better on that front, but I'd like to hear someone else's reasoning on it, too.

    2. b
      blackcoffee Mar 21, 2008 01:09 AM

      It is still winter, as far as produce goes -- give it a month and they'll have great stuff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: blackcoffee
        CityPork Mar 21, 2008 05:51 AM

        When I used them during the end of fall, beginning of winter they sent out a notice that the orders wouldn't have as much produce in them because of the prices of gas and whatnot. I canceled after that.

      2. Allstonian Mar 21, 2008 06:10 AM

        I've been a Stillman's member since 2000 - what kind of tips are you looking for?

        1. t
          tdaaa Mar 21, 2008 09:13 AM

          I'm a long-time Boston Organics member. Obviously, the winter produce is not quite as nice as the summer stuff, and is sourced from far away (eg. lots of transport). On the other hand, this week we got beautiful pea shoots and a perfect mango. Over the last few weeks the standout items have been avacados, pineapple, mango, blood oranges (add on item), and apples. I personally don't care about organic vs. conventional (but prefer local over distant) but really appreciate the variety, value, quality and convenience of boston organics. Others disagree..... but after 4 years I remain an avid fan. Now, if I could only get a share in the Belmont CSA I would be fulfilled (although I have continued boston organics in the past while in participating in a CSA).

          14 Replies
          1. re: tdaaa
            heathermb Mar 21, 2008 12:45 PM

            I'm waiting for my box to arrive this afternoon...fingers crossed that I get some pea shoots! Sadly the friday box never seems to be as good as what the newsletter / web site promises in "this week's box" - more substitutions than not. I am giving strong consideration to canceling the service in favor of local farmers' markets mostly to avoid such a large carbon footprint with BO.

            1. re: heathermb
              BostonZest Mar 21, 2008 07:04 PM

              What is the source of your carbon footprint information? May I have some details please.

              My own carbon footprint is light because I don't own a car, I live in a small space and I unite with others to lower the cost of food delivery with companies like Boston Organics. (They even use pedaled Trikes to deliver in some parts of Boston. )

              If there are fact that I don't have, I would like to see them. Please tell us the details that made you come to your conclusion.

              1. re: BostonZest
                lisa13 Mar 22, 2008 12:24 PM

                For me, I think the basic deal is:

                farmers markets/csa's = local = very little transport

                BO = from CA/FL/Mexico/etc = much, much greater transport

                It is true that BO does offer *some* east coast produce in summer, but unless they have significantly changed things since last summer, it is a small amount proportionately.

                In winter I would say distance traveled evens out with what one would find in a supermarket, but I can get better produce at Wilson's (who sell many of their own crops even into winter, so there is an edge there in my book).

                That was my carbon footprint reasoning when I quit BO.

                1. re: lisa13
                  cambridgejen Mar 22, 2008 06:32 PM

                  I definitely agree with this. I quit BO because it was farmers market season and plenty of local produce was available, and yet my BO boxes were full of all kinds of foods from the west coast and Mexico.

                  1. re: lisa13
                    powella Mar 24, 2008 10:52 AM

                    We agree. In season, we have Stillman's CSA but in dead o' winter, we do BO.

                  2. re: BostonZest
                    heathermb Mar 23, 2008 10:11 AM

                    My reasoning is almost identical to lisa13. What it really comes down to for me is the fact that most of the produce comes from very, very far away. Since I have little control over what comes in my box I am choosing instead to shop for myself and make more conscious decisions about foods that are produced as close to me as possible.

                    Once farmers market season comes around I will have an abundance of beautiful, local foods from which to choose and I intend to take full advantage.

                    1. re: heathermb
                      yumyum Mar 23, 2008 10:21 AM

                      I've often been tempted to join a CSA, but I enjoy the farmers' market experience so much I'd miss it if I didn't go every week to see the same farmers, the same faces, but different produce from week to week. I hit Davis Square on Wednesdays and Union Square on Saturdays in the full swing of the season and this year I'm going to learn to can and freeze for the winter months too. Because apparently I'm turning into my grandmother.

                      1. re: yumyum
                        BostonZest Mar 23, 2008 12:04 PM

                        I agree and I love to try to support a number of the farms by buying a bit here and a bit there. I do Copley, City Hall, and Coolidge Corner. Living in the Back Bay we have farmer's markets available 7 days a week with one seat on a bus or subway or a nice walk to Cambridgeport on Saturday.

                        I also walk the entire market before I buy anything. As I go, I compose menus in my head and then backtrack and buy what I need for a couple of days.

                        We have the tinyest of city kitchens and a refrigerator that I hate. I must have been designed for people who don't eat fresh food. A new fridge is under research because (thank goodness) the old one is leaking water during the defrost cycle.

                        So storage for more than a few days food at a time is difficult.

                        1. re: yumyum
                          Allstonian Mar 23, 2008 12:15 PM

                          Good point - while I enjoy the friendly relationship I've built with the Stillman family, especially in the past two years with Kate and Aidan, I do miss the wide variety of the Copley and Coolidge Corner farmers markets. However, I don't drive. Now that I work in Brigham Circle, Copley involves about an hour's round trip by bus or streetcar in the middle of a work day, and I can't get to Coolidge Corner till nearly 6 on my way home. I do still shop the Brookline market pretty regularly, but there are times in the early and late ends of the season when the things I want are sold out and stands are closing down by the time I arrive. The Brigham Circle farmer's market has only two stands, and doesn't really compete with what I get in my CSA share.

                          BFP also notes that we get the half-share from Stillman's, which leaves us room to supplement from the farmer's markets if we don't get the variety or quantity we might want.

                          1. re: Allstonian
                            beacon_hill_boy Mar 23, 2008 12:58 PM

                            I'm completely ignorant of "Boston Organics" but I've been a patron of the local farmers' markets (Copley, City Hall Plaza & So.End) for almost a decade. Wasnt there a discussion of a year-round market space - what happened to that project??

                            Beyond the carbon footprint (I don't drive) & organics argument, I buy local produce because it TASTES better. I know the farmers by face or name, and they have great recommendations that never disappoint me. Husk cherries, for example!

                            You cannot tell me those California strawberries taste ANYWHERE CLOSE to those from So. or Cent. Mass. !

                            Can anyone describe their experience with 'meat shares' - the WeeklyDig had an item, recently. Also, an article on the vegetable produce:

                            1. re: beacon_hill_boy
                              Chris VR Mar 23, 2008 06:29 PM

                              Here's a pretty good description of my experience with Houde Family Farm meat CSA. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/412742

                              While I really enjoy my meat CSA, it's probably not ideal for people with limited storage space (unless you split a share.) If you're already on the Farmer's Market circuit, you're probably better off picking meat up on an as-needed basis from Stillman, Chestnut or other locla farms that serve local farmer's markets.

                              1. re: Chris VR
                                beacon_hill_boy Mar 23, 2008 10:31 PM

                                Thanks for that! I've enjoyed Stillman's lambchops, but the sausages haven't been as exciting as what I find in Montreal, on the Plateau. I'm going to investigate the meat CSA more carefully, now. We have a subzero with room.
                                I buy a Savenor's and wonder how big the savings with a CSA would be ... guess I need to crunch some numbers!

                                1. re: beacon_hill_boy
                                  Chris VR Mar 24, 2008 05:50 AM

                                  Cost-wise, I feel like it's a wash for me, especially when I factor in the very high quaility/taste. I suppose I do spend more overall, because I certainly wasn't spending $6.25/lb for bacon before but DAMN this bacon is gooood. It's helped me realize that there's not much point (for me) in spending less for inferior product- life's too short to eat Oscar Meyer! But then, I was definitely spending more than $6.25/lb for steaks. We had some T-bones the other day that were so flavorful. If you buy a lot of cheaper cuts, this sort of thing is going to seem like a larger hit.

                          2. re: yumyum
                            cambridgejen Mar 23, 2008 04:57 PM

                            That's exactly what we did last summer, and it's been wonderful this winter. We bought a little pantry-sized deep freezer from Sears, a vacuum sealer from Costco, and all of our canning supplies from Tags in Porter Sq. I've been enjoying farmers market beets, tomatoes, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli, and squash all winter long. It's actually a fun process and not as difficult as it seems. The best part is that every meal is a little reminder of all of the great times we had at the markets last summer.

                            EDIT - Ooops, this was supposed to be in response to yumyum's post above!

                  3. erican Mar 24, 2008 09:38 AM

                    We did BO last year and eventually quit because we weren't getting as much local stuff as we expected, and because much of the produce arrived almost-spoiled. The variety was good, especially in the summer, but it just couldn't compete with farmers market produce. After we gave up on BO, we did a winter share at Belmont CSA and are signed up for Red Fire Farm's CSA for the summer, which we plan to supplement with farmers markets. So far, our experience with CSAs has led me to believe that BO, as good of an idea as it is, just can't compete quality-wise. Even though the winter CSA's offerings had limited variety, we got tons of everything, and it was all fresh, delicious stuff that stored well, rather than the imported, on-the-brink of collapse greens we got from BO. Like some others here, I am planning on doing a lot of canning this summer, so that next winter we have a little more variety in the winter... I can't wait till the produce starts rolling in!

                    We also do the Houde Family Farm meat CSA, thanks to ChrisVRs recommendation, and we just LOVE it.

                    1. holldoll Mar 24, 2008 08:13 PM

                      I was planning on giving a gift of 10 weeks of BO. Your post has got me worried and not willing to part with 300.00.
                      Can anyone else speak to this before I decide?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: holldoll
                        subito Mar 24, 2008 08:33 PM

                        We just signed up with BO last week and got our first box this past Friday. We thought it was great. Everything was very fresh and delicious. I hope it continues.

                        1. re: holldoll
                          lisa13 Mar 25, 2008 05:01 AM

                          My experience with the produce itself was very similar to erican's - every week there was at least one item in the delivery that was pretty much spoiled, smashed/shredded, or otherwise inedible right out of the box, and a couple more that were definitely on the way out. A lot of the fruit was damaged or so underripe that it would go straight to spoiled.

                          They were always very nice about replacing these under par items in the next week's box, but it happened so frequently that it was just not worth worth "complaining" about it regularly. It made me feel uncomfortable to have to ask to have items replaced that should have never made it to delivery in the first place.

                          Given the excellent reports from other customers, I am starting to suspect that one's delivery day may have a lot to do with what one ends up with? We were getting ours on Friday.

                          1. re: lisa13
                            Gabatta Mar 25, 2008 05:57 AM

                            Great point. They are excellent about replacing damaged or poor quality lettuce (e.g. lettuce with bugs) in next weeks box, however I found keeping up with the complaints to be too time consuming. I would just say oh well, and eventually cancelled. There was definitely a noticable difference in the winter and shoulder months, and also an abundance or regular potatoes. IMO BO is not worth it based on quality and price. We did better spending that $ at farmers markets (summer) and Russo's (winter) every week.

                            This year we are looking forward to the Brookfield Farms CSA.

                            1. re: lisa13
                              erican Mar 25, 2008 06:20 AM

                              I think you may be right about the delivery day - ours was also Friday, and I always got the impression that they had run out of some stuff and were making substitutions, and that other stuff had been sitting in their storage since Monday.

                              And, yes, they were always very nice about replacing stuff, but it just seemed like a waste of what could have been good food!

                              1. re: lisa13
                                heathermb Mar 25, 2008 06:40 AM

                                I am also on Friday and I think that definitely factors in.

                                1. re: heathermb
                                  tdaaa Mar 25, 2008 10:52 AM

                                  Interesting theory - I am a Thursday delivery and have had no serious problems - certainly occasional bruised stone fruit that mold before ripening and occasional stone hard items that never ripen, but I have the exact same problems with my local supermarket when I am picking items myself.

                                  It is clearly not a famers market. It is a convenience item comparable to supermarket produce, and cheaper than the organic produce that I can find in the regular supermarket. It is slightly more expensive than regular produce.

                                  When they started ~5 years ago, ORGANIC was the rage... the winds of change have come and now LOCAL is the buzzword that is most important. Unfortunately, many local farmers do not qualify as organic. As boston organic places a premium on organic, they source from far away if appropriate local organic items are not available or reasonably priced.

                                  I like BO for what it is. It is not a farmers market or a CSA. I guess that it is more efficient than the local supermarket and probably has a better carbon footprint. Primarily, however, I just like coming home on a Thursday night and finding a green box full of surprise ingredients for the next few days cooking. Sure beats dragging my butt back out to the grocery store.

                                  If there is enough interest, I suspect Boston Organics would institute a local, non- or part-organic option for delivery. They monitor chowhound and are certainly open to suggestions for additional services.

                            2. gini Mar 25, 2008 07:59 AM

                              I tried Boston Organics for a couple months during the winter of '06 - '07, but ultimately terminated my membership for several reasons.

                              1) mushy fruit
                              2) not-local produce
                              3) not enough variation in produce
                              4) biweekly delivery was too little for me, but weekly was way too much for one person

                              I loved the delivery system and the challenge of what to make from the ingredients, but ultimately decided that the combination of shopping at Russo's during the winter and the farmer's markets during the summer were better for me.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gini
                                Cork Mar 25, 2008 08:32 PM

                                I'm gonna stand up for BO here
                                we get our box on Tuesday's and in the past 12 weeks that we have had this service, we have not had a single piece of bad fruit/veg. In fact, it all lasts far longer than what we buy at the grocery store. I like the fact that by saturday the box list is posted, so if we do some supplemental groceries on the weekend, we know exactly what else we should be buying. also, we can choose to change our box every week, and we do at times, if we like/dislike what is in the mix for the week.
                                i think the service (ultimately, this is a service) is well worth it -

                              2. cassoulady Mar 25, 2008 11:40 AM

                                My office gets a fruit only BO box every week. If you can get your office to do this, it is a wonderful way to have fruit on heand for snacks. We love it and its a great alternative to a lot of food available in an office.

                                1. s
                                  SmartChow Jan 13, 2009 07:32 AM

                                  I just tried The CSA from Enterprise Farm - really good stuff and they deliver Wednesdays to Davis Square. No annual membership. You just pay month-to-month for your weekly share - $115 for the small and $150 for the big.
                                  Here's a recent story I wrote about it: http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville...

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