Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Which Co-op For What Products?

Several people have asked me lately about the difference between the Nebraska Food Co-op and the Azure Standard Co-op. I get questions like "What do you buy from which co-op?" and "Isn't it against your philosophy to buy food trucked all the way from Oregon?"  These are fair questions so I wanted to address them here.

It's true, I'm all about buying local and supporting farmers who produce food using organic and sustainable practices.  That's why I'm a member of the Nebraska Food Co-op.  Especially when it comes to protein and produce, my first choice is always a local farm. The closer to my home the better, because then we are more likely to get to know our farmers and learn exactly how our food is being produced. It's very important to me that our beef is 100% grass-fed, (you can learn why HERE) so I want to be able to speak directly to the farmer and see the ground where my beef is grazing.

We purchase all our protein from local Nebraska farms. Chicken, beef, eggs, bison, duck, goose, lamb, pork, etc.....if it has legs, it has walked a Nebraska pasture before it gets to our plate.

Produce is a little trickier depending on the time of year obviously, so that's when I turn to Azure Standard and the health food grocery stores in Lincoln (of which there are now going to be 4, amazingly!-Open Harvest, Natural Grocer, Trader Joes and opening soon, Whole Foods Market!!).

I also use Azure Standard for perishable and non-perishable grocery items which cannot be purchased from the Nebraska Food Co-op because even with shipping, they are often cheaper than what you would pay at the grocery stores in Lincoln.  I like the added convenience of being able to pick them up right here in Seward and this also gives me the option to buy in bulk and enjoy even bigger discounts on frequently used items or items I can share with others.

I will admit that before Traders Joe's and Natural Grocer opened, I depended more on Azure Standard than I do now. I have found myself buying more and more in Lincoln, so it really just depends on how much cost savings you're willing to trade for convenience.  If I'm out of shredded coconut, I will probably buy a small bag in Lincoln to hold me over until I can order a bulk bag next month from Azure.

And yes, it's silly to order produce from Azure in the middle of summer when farmer's markets are thriving and plenty of local produce is available. However, I wouldn't hesitate to buy produce from Azure in the winter because I trust it will be sourced from good farms and it will arrive fresh.  The only difference is the truck brings it straight to me here in Seward, as opposed to organic produce delivered to Lincoln stores, where it might sit around for several days before I get around to buying it.

To get an idea of the type of things I purchase from Azure Standard, you can see my current list of favorites HERE.

I'd love to hear from "food-forward" members of our community!  What does your purchasing behavior look like and how are you supporting our local, sustainably-oriented farmers?