plan b organics
some friends were visiting over the long weekend and they were telling me about CSAs. i guess i've been living under a rock but this was totally news to me! :) anyway, i'm interested now and am looking into plan b organics.
i'm making an effort to buy more organic food but i'm not 100% organic. i'm definitely interested in the local movement. normally, i buy produce @ longos (near my office in mississauga) and/or the etobicoke farmers market in the summer.
can anyone please comment re: the following questions?
1. approximately, how MUCH do you get in a box? i'm looking at getting a half share for hubby and me. we're big home cooks and enjoy our veggies.
2. what kind of 'stuff' can i expect for the summer season?
3. how does this pick-up thing work? i'm etobicoke and according to the map, the pick up is right by my physiotherapist's office! is the box dropped off at a store or some kind of vendor and i can pop by anytime they're open? or am i meeting some guy in a truck?? (we work 'regular' office jobs so we'd have to schedule pick up times for after work hours).
4. what's the quality of the produce?
5. anything else i should be aware of???
so we decided to stick with the etobicoke farmers market this summer ... it's been fantastic. however, the market will close in early november (i think).
SO, i'm wondering if anyone can comment on their summer experience with plan b organics? i noticed on their website that they are now accepting orders for the fall season (october 13 - december 31). not sure what to expect in a fall share but i'm thinking beets, potatoes, carrots?
I got a monthly box last winter - I don't think they were distinguishing between fall and winter last year). I haven't checked out the website this year, but I do suggest specifying Local Only if that's what you want. They forgot with one of my boxes and it had conventional organics like oranges and bananas, nothing special and I would really rather pick my own at the grocery store. With the local box, you definitely get carrots, potatoes, squash, and cabbage, but also some interesting stuff like dried beans and hothouse greens & mushrooms - but these last were not always as fresh as I would have liked. Also every month I got a cabbage, which I could barely handle, I would not want a weekly cabbage. Could have used a little more variety of root veg as I love parsnip and turnips. But maybe if I had gotten it weekly, not monthly, I would have seen more variety.
I haven't tried Plan B but I get a bi-weekly Good Food box and love it! (http://www.foodshare.net/goodfoodbox01.htm)
Here's a photo to one of my previous boxes. http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/good-food-box-4/
I get the Wellness Box ($12) which is NOT organic but occasionally has organic items and has an emphasis on local where possible. I think they have an organic box for $22 and an organic fruit box as well which will be great during the summer.
You might want to also look into Green Earth Organics ( http://www.greenearthorganics.com ). They are a local business that also operate out of Vancouver and they deliver anywhere in Toronto. It's similar to Plan B, and you choose your type of bin: Regular Harvest Box $37, Family Harvest Box $47 and Super Harvest $60. They drop your bin (a large Rubbermaid Box) right in front of your door. You can pay via cheque, pre-authorized debit or credit card.
I like the fact that I can customize my weekly bin and exchange 4 items with a different 4. Plan B and Green Earth are great services since you don't fall into a rut of eating the same produce week after week. I never cooked baby bok choy until trying this service, nor realized how much I hated Kale. As Apple says, the fruits will look smaller and not-so-perfect but they make up for their blemishes with flavour. Their bananas are not only organic, but fair trade.
thanks for the reply.
i've looked into GEO but i noticed the prices were a bit higher than plan b. one of the appealing things about plan b is the pricepoint. a half-share works out to $25 per week; and according to apple, it sounds like it would be enough for a week.
that said, i may look into GEO (and others like it) during the winter months when plan b and/or farmers markets aren'ts readily available. one bonus about companies like GEO is that you can just pay as you go instead of one lump sum up front like a CSA.
we were members last year - we had the half share- so here is my feedback:
1, depends week to week - in the early months - it was less (because it wasn't as warm) but by the end - we could barely finish our box. I would say there are enough vegetables to fill your two crispers in a regular sized fridge
2, we had things like strawberries, mizuna, spring salad, potatoes, lettuce, apples, cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, shitakes, etc
3, the pick up works like this - you go to the "depot" and grab your box (they are marked - half /full/local/fruit, etc.) you grab a box and fill up your bags and tick your name off the box. Ours was at a house and the kind woman who lived there would keep things out until 9. If you didn't make arrangements to pick up the next day - I think she donated it to charity. My issue last year was primarily with delivery times - our box was supposed to be at 5 but realistically it was more like 6.... without a car - it was a 30 min walk so we had to wait around. I understand things are going to be better (we were also in the east end so we were probably last on the list)
4. pretty good - remember it's organic - so apples are smaller and less perfect than what you would find at loblaws. we did have a couple of cantelopes, tomatoes go bad overnight - so everything had to be put in the fridge (we don't like to do that with certain items)
5. see 3 - also - I was pretty happy with it overall - but my husband did get tired of certain vegetables week after week. we decided to forego plan b this year and just shop at the farmer's market more (and choose the produce we want)
if you have any other questions - let me know - happy to answer them.
wow! thanks so much for the detailed answers.
i'll talk it over with my SO and we'll go from there.
we're tempted to just make a better effort of going to the etobicoke farmers market on saturdays. the past few summers, we'd get caught up doing whatever we were doing on saturdays and then miss it.
i'm definitely concerned with not being able to pick your own stuff (from a variety and quality point of view). we already grow carrots, beets, tomatos, and herbs in our garden so i don't want to get a glut of those towards the end of summer either.
one more question ... did you find the variety was enough that you didn't need to buy other veggies from the supermarket/organic store? i.e. i'm wondering what will happen if i don't get onions in a few boxes ... and since onions are a staple for us, i'll need to pick some up at the store.
We did have quite a bit of variety in the box and actually I found it fun to find out what was in the box and how to cook it. We did sometime top up at the farmer's market though, maybe one or two items especially if we had dinner guests. (So that's reasonable) We also go through alot of onions and found it adequate for our needs at least.
I have also used Green Earth Organics in the past. As another poster mentioned, you can substitute items and if you don't like certain items coming that week... it gives you a bit more flexibility.
With CSA boxes, you are subject to the highs and lows of the seasons and the farm... and you take what you get from the box. Good thing - connectedness to the earth and all, but sometimes you just need tomatoes. no kale, just tomatoes - hence the top up. Unfortunately - there were weeks as hard as we tried... we did have some wasted vegetables... shame.
Green Earth Organics is more expensive but you pay more for choice.