"But it's too expensive to eat healthy!" If I had a dime for every time I heard this excuse I'd be one of the youngest retirees on the face of the planet. Eating healthy has become synonymous with eating expensively, but it doesn't have to be. It is what you make of it.
You can spend a fortune shopping at the trendiest and fanciest health food store down the block filling your cart full of high end organic produce, or you could accomplish the same by seeking out less conventional routes for grocery shopping. This is where food co-ops come into play.
What Is A Food Co-op?
A food cooperative (or food co-op) is simply a food distribution outlet organized by a group of volunteers working together to meet their common economic and social needs. In other words, it is a member owned "grocery store". This doesn't mean there has to be an actual grocery store to shop at. Many food co-ops simply have pickup sites where once a week members will come pick up their "share" of the crop for that week.
Food co-ops almost always focus on buying from local farms if at all possible. Many will also concentrate on buying organic goods or at least have organic goods available for their members should they choose this option.
Overall, buying the bulk of your fresh produce from a food co-op can save you a lot of money. It's not unheard of to save 50% or more off of regular retail prices at the local supermarket for the same items. Plus, the fruits and vegetables are typically fresher since they've been picked a day or two prior (if not the same day) to you picking them up. You get fresh produce at a fantastic price that's even organic in many cases.
How To Find A Local Food Co-op
Finding a local food co-op is pretty easy. There are a number of great programs and organizations which make the search as simple as ever. I'll highlight a few below that you can check out to locate a co-op near you.
1) Local Harvest - http://www.localharvest.org/food-coops/
- Search the entire United States for Community Supported Agriculture Farms and Co-ops
2) Bountiful Baskets - http://www.BountifulBaskets.org/
- Food co-op program operating several local branches in up to 22 U.S. states
3) Cooperative Grocer Network - http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/coops
- Searches all of North America (U.S. and Canada) for local food co-ops
4) Stronger Together - http://strongertogether.coop/all-coops/
- Local co-op search listings for programs in 36 U.S. states
Joining a local co-op could be the best thing you've ever done. It's a win-win situation. You support the local community and the farmers surrounding the community while in return getting fresh, delicious, and sometimes even organic fruits and veggies at a bargain price. There's no more excuses for adopting a healthy lifestyle! Get started today and live a better tomorrow.
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Photo credit: Artaxerxes (Wikimedia Commons)
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