I wish I ate all local food all the time. I want to be one of those people with the reusable bags and recycled egg cartons, sipping a latte and supporting farmers at the market every Saturday morning. Instead, I’m at Trader Joe’s early on Sunday to beat the church crowd and get my dreary California produce because it’s cheap and reliable.
Turns out there’s a service for people like me who support local food in theory but in practice opt for convenience.
The Produce Box combines the social, environmental and economic benefits of eating local with the convenience of online shopping and automated weekly delivery service.
Launched in Raleigh in 2007 and recently rolled out in Charlotte, The Produce Box sources food from more than 40 farmers and 60 artisan food businesses throughout North Carolina and then delivers a different selection straight to your door each week.
Members sign up to receive a standard weekly box of local goods ranging from $23-$26, which I think is an incredibly reasonable deal for the food + delivery.
Johnson & Wales University professor Adam Smith is an avid Produce Box fan and, according to their blog, does almost all of his grocery shopping through the service. He says that even though local food is priced higher, a delivery service like this saves money in the long run because we are more likely to overspend on unnecessary items when we step foot in a grocery store.
Here’s what I like about The Produce Box:
Those North Carolina tomatoes taste absolutely nothing like Trader Joe’s tomatoes basically because Trader Joe’s tomatoes have no taste at all. Same goes for the peaches and kale and everything. NC produce is vibrant and exploding with flavor.
Unlike a CSA or farmers market or produce stand with a central pick-up or selling point, The Produce Box distributes goods directly to each customer’s home. I know it sounds terribly lazy, but if your lifestyle demands it and convenience is a priority, that’s a point for this service. I also liked that my box was delivered by a Produce Box rep and not FedEx or USPS. I’ve tested another national food delivery service and FedEx just left the box of perishable goods out front in the heat… twice. Because Produce Box had my cell phone number, they worked with me to set up an ideal delivery time so I would be there and the food wouldn’t be wasted.
Each box comes with quick tips on how to store and prepare everything. There’s advice on how to wash, freeze and extend the life of each item as well as recipe cards to use as mealtime inspiration.
In my first box I got:
- Bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mini watermelon
For a week, I got to live like the local foodie I aspire to be. I used a tip from the instruction packet and washed and froze my kale to use for my green smoothie bowls.
I ate lots of hummus toast with tomatoes.
I made a hash with potatoes, peppers, kale and tomatoes.
I shucked corn for the first time since I was a kid probably (that’s embarrassing) and had it with a local veggie scramble and grits bread made with grits from Carolina-based Anson Mill.
I ate peaches and watermelon nonstop.
Yeah, I still hope to be that reusable bag-wielding market-goer every Saturday morning, but signing up for The Produce Box delivery service ensures I’ll really consistently support local NC agriculture every week even when it doesn’t fit into my schedule. I give it two thumbs up.
Connect with The Produce Box