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Aug 27, 2009 05:53 PM

Organic Produce Delivery

I love the weekly trek to the Farmer's Market but have begun toying with the idea of ordering weekly organic produce delivery. A friend seduced me with it by talking about what a surprise exist in each week's offerings. I think it will also continue fueling my creativity and exposure to other veggies and fruits- the only thing is I'm not sure of which one to go with. I searched the SF thread and came up dry. Any suggestions?

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  1. Try doing a search for "CSA" -- here's one recent thread:

    1. I really like Eatwell. We get every other week boxes. Family of 4 w/ 2 small kids. Both parents work. Kind of weird to say but if I didn't have the kids I think I could cook enough to use a weekly box. Every other week is all we can manage now. We still go to Farmer's Market weekly for staple fruit like apples. I like the boxes because it has "forced" us to eat things I would have never of tried and hardly heard of in the past, like Kale. I'm now an expert at making 5 different Kale soups. Think overall this makes us eat much healthier since we try to use all that we can in creative ways.

      1. Do you live in San Francisco proper? Full Belly has a delivery option, but they don't do SF. Eatwell Farm, Terra Firma Farm, and Two Small Farms are all good and do SF, but don't offer home delivery, you have to pick up at a dropoff site.

        I don't know of any real CSAs that deliver in SF. Capay Inc. / Capay Fruits & Vegetables / Farm Fresh to You / Capay Organics purports to be a CSA but it's not really.

        1. Since you asked for an organic produce delivery rather than a CSA, let me throw Planet Organics into the mix. They deliver to our door which is a huge bonus for us. They are not a CSA and will have items like bananas. But the majority of their produce is from local organic farms and they will also deliver things like Marin Sun Farms meat. They are a produce delivery -- you agree to spend a certain amount of money each period and you choose what you get. It has kept us eating healthier and decreased the amount of errand-hours each week. Were there a CSA to deliver to our SF home we'd be keen but there is not.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SarahKC

            Thanks everyone. I'm checking out the CSA's you've mentioned and am thinking about Terra Firma. I appreciate it!

          2. Actually, I ended up going with Farm Fresh to You and spent a good 30 minutes chatting with one of their reps. at the Eat Real Festival this past weekend in Oakland. They deliver to homes or business addresses and have a really good offering of different sizes of boxes.

            17 Replies
            1. re: anneliesz

              I have been using for about a month. Though I am happy with their delivery, please note that they deliver in the middle of the night. If they say Tuesday delivery, like mine in San Ramon, be aware it arrives between 1130pm and 1 a.m. in my case. Sounds like they leave the farm after rush hour traffic for deliveries. Does your dog bark? Or a neighbors? They pick up your cardboard delivery box for reuse/recycle. Leave it out for them.

              Please re-read the last paragraph of Robert's message above. You do have a choice to order their Capay Valley box, all of which they grow themselves, otherwise their regular service is their own stuff mixed with stuff sourced from other farms, both out of area and out of state. The salesman did not point that out to me. Easy to switch on-line, and a great website that is responsive to your needs.

              I went to their open house, read as open farm, this past weekend, near Cache Creek Casino. Great people, nice hospitality, wonderful farm, and very helpful. Encouraged us to pick veggies in the field to try ourselves for sampling, plus take some home as samples. A great day in the hot weather was had by all. The heat probably kept some people away. Thaddeus, the major owner/boss/public face led our tour, one of three. He was great, and really filled you in on the details of running a farm and this business. I will say "BRAVO" to Thaddeus and his whole organization. They were top-notch. Who knew a candy stripe fig could taste like strawberry jam, warm and ripe right off the tree. Really. Simply amazing. Or 10 of them if you pleased. Can't wait for more in tonight's delivery. We brought home eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, figs, and grapes. Saw squash, the asparagus field, basil, carrots, citrus trees, and heard but did not see the pistachio tree/trees, but a visitor told us they were there. So in retrospect, it is a great place, great farm, great people. Will you like it? Don't know, but I was very happy.

              My only complaint before I changed to the "Valley box" instead of the regular box, was that some of their fruits/veggies are sourced from outside their farm. A minor quibble was the few strawberries or blueberries in two different deliveries were squashed and slightly moldy, though the rest were okay due to shipping/delay from other places. It was in looking at their newsletter that I realized the blueberries were from out of state and strawberries from Watsonville, so they were showing signs of shipping/date. I did not bring it to their attention, and probably should have, but I am willing to give them a break. Tonight starts the new service, which I initiated due to being educated by a past poster if you search the chow archive for "Farm Fresh To You" for the "Valley" box which is stuff grown on their farm. Easy to switch, deal with your account, vacation hold, delivery instructions, bill payment options.

              All in all, I like it. But I supplement it still by buying at farmers markets, etc as a box to feed four is not enough for my big eater, strictly vegetarian, home cook needs. But note that you can get delivery of bigger size boxes. I just choose not to.

              I look foward to hearing other opinions.

              1. re: Handyman

                You beat me to it. I've been sharing a regular box with a friend who picked it for the home delivery option and account flexibility. But I have to say that there's something that's less than fresh and/or ripe in each delivery. Shriveled cherries from Washington, moldy onions, unripe grapes.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Lo and behold, I open my box of "Valley" assortment this morning, and on top, staring me in the face, is a truly rotten, hairy, moldy heirloom tomato. If this was just picked yesterday, that would not have happened. I am SOOOOOOOO disappointed. Sure seems like the boxes were put together earlier in the week or something. If this was picked yesterday, this would not have happened. Quality control is lacking obviously. I guess a written complaint to them is in my future.

                  1. re: Handyman

                    Which reminds me of the basket of orange-colored cherry tomatoes that were squishy and moldy. Had to throw half of them away.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    I started buying from Farm Fresh at the beginning of the year and have had the same problem with quality. They're quite friendly, always chat, are accommodating at leaving out items you don't want (or even replacing them in the next shipment), but usually there is one dead item and another that starts going moldy in a day or two. Their packaging isn't great either; two times the strawberries were practically jam when they arrived. The peaches they have sent have always been rock hard.

                    I love the idea of the service, and did enjoy it for a few months, but no longer think the price/quality ratio is worth it. Perhaps they were just better in the winter when seasonal things are less crushable.

                    1. re: Marc Wallace

                      The Farm Fresh box delivered yesterday had squashed pears in it.

                      1. re: Marc Wallace

                        To offer a winter update, the collard greens grown by Capay were already yellow and dried out when delivered. Either these were picked several days earlier or the harvesters were desperate. This should never have made it in the box. And the avocadoes were bad too, soft and moldy.

                        OTOH, I have liked the cauliflower and rapini grown by Capay, mostly because they were actually fairly fresh. It is quite a contrast with the J & P Organics box. J&P's produce will keep for a week in the fridge if I don't use it right away. Whereas Capay's is on it's last legs when it gets to the consumer.

                    2. re: Handyman

                      They don't grow all of the stuff in the Capay Valley box themselves, they also buy from other local farms such as River Dog and Full Belly. Other boxes include stuff from suppliers from Washington to Mexico, though this time of year (peak summer) most is local.

                      Capay Inc. is a big operation. They have 25 full-time and 50 part-time employees, 4,000 square feet of cold storage, and a retail store at the Ferry Building. They deliver to over 5,000 customers from Roseville to San Jose, but that's only 40% of their business: the rest is a wholesale operation selling barcoded produce. They just bought another 114 acres for $1.05 million.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Interesting summation of their operations. They definitely seem well organized but I'm bummed about the rotten fruits. I may still try them out and see how it fares. Handyman, are you thinking of changing your service again?

                        1. re: anneliesz

                          For comparison, I've never had that problem with Two Small Farms or the Mariquita mystery boxes. Of course they rarely include fruit, but regular strawberries (occasionally very ripe, but never rotten) and lots of tomatoes. And many greens that suffer greatly once picked if not refrigerated or eaten.

                          1. re: Windy

                            But neither Two Small Farms nor Mariquita deliver.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              TSF has a lot of dropoff points in SF and it might be worthwhile to check out the list to see if one is close to your home.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Where is the value in paying to have moldy fruit delivered, unless you are housebound?

                                I have three TSF locations within half a mile of my house, and an 8-hour window for pick up. I love going the farmer's market, but this takes less than ten minutes out of my life. I've done it on public transit and foot as well as with a car.

                                My guess is the quality control problem with FFTU isn't their refrigerators, but the fact that they're subcontracting part of the sourcing. That makes it much harder to manage when it's picked versus delivered.

                                That's precisely why giant grocery stores pick before it's tree ripened. No one would buy moldy/squashed items given a choice, no matter how nice the person selling them to you was.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Clearly Capay has found a business model that's scalable. I'm not going to fault them for being successful and providing a market solution. I wish that other farms would pay attention and could figure out a way to provide more service.

                            In parallel with the delivery from Capay, on alternate weeks, I've been getting a box that I split with the same friend delivered by J&P Organics of Castroville when I'm in Salinas. I think that they took a lesson from Capay. No contract required, order on a week by week basis, and the box includes mostly produce grown by J&P, plus produce that it trades with other small farms and/or picked-to-order produce from ALBA Organics. We had some valencia oranges a few times, which I'm sure aren't from the Salinas Valley, but they were so good, I meant to find out the source so I could get more.

                            In the Salinas/Monterey/Santa Cruz area, the $23 price includes home delivery. In contrast to Capay, the produce has been pristine and lasts quite well. It has been great to have local strawberries each time, and last week we had two cartons of glorious raspberries as well. I've taken photos of each week's box and should upload them for viewing. This has shown me what a CSA can be, and makes the Capay offering that much more disappointing.

                            I'm mentioning J&P because it also serves Palo Alto and Oakland via drop-off points. The website isn't up to date. J&P also runs a farmstand on the Stanford campus when school is in session.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Starting this month, I've noticed that the emails that I receive from J&P Organics state that payment can be made by cash, check or WIC. Kudos to J&P Organics farm for making it possible for low-income women, infants and children to use their WIC vouchers to buy fresh produce!!!

                          3. re: Handyman

                            I've been getting deliveries from "Farm Fresh To You" for four or more years. I get some duds, but it really works for me. I also grow my own, and shop the local farmers market.

                            1. re: Handyman

                              I've been getting FFTU for about a year delivered to my office which is always during business hours, nothing left outside. I haven't had any quality issues until this week where several of the tomatoes were smashed.
                              I did complain once by e-mail that it was tomato season and I wasn't receiving any, and they e-mailed right back and said they'd make a note to add extra tomatoes in my box for for a while.
                              I get the regular box every other week, but now that I see the mention of the Valley Box, I think I'll switch. I don't like getting Washington State cherries when I can get decent ones right here, for example.