Keeping the Community in Healthy Food Access

Accessing fresh, healthy, and affordable foods in rural communities can be a real struggle. Helping people in Big Stone County build those healthy, local food systems has been my work for the past couple of years, and we have seen some good results from it, along with some economic revitalization in the local food sector. There’s always more to be done.

Production of and access to fresh, affordable produce in a rural “food desert” is a problem with many facets: producers cope with weather stresses, low prices, and lack of markets for their product; retailers deal with quality, pricing, and sourcing issues, and consumers may not always be able to get what they want for a price they’re comfortable paying.

So, it seems like any strategy that can help community members increase their access to and intake of fresh fruits and veggies at an affordable price would be a real boon. Bountiful Baskets, a buying club with chapters across the western U.S. and now starting up in Ortonville, purports to do just that. For a $15 (or $25 for the organic option) “financial contribution,” local residents will be able to place an order online for a large portion of produce and pick it up every other week.

Bountiful Baskets calls itself a “Food Co-op,” and its local organizers refer to it as a “non-profit volunteer co-op.” But Bountiful Baskets does not appear to be incorporated as a co-op nor registered as a non-profit in any of the several western states’ records I searched. It was started in 2009 as a for-profit corporation in Arizona, and it was administratively dissolved by the state in 2011 for failure to file annual reports.

Still, Bountiful Baskets organizers refer to the service in the language used by its administrators, and those administrators are careful to indicate that you are not “ordering” the merchandise, you’re contributing to a pool of money to, well, order something with a whole bunch of other people:

“Making a contribution is sometimes referred to as ‘ordering’, but this is not accurate. We call it contributing or participating, because Bountiful Baskets is not a business that you buy from, but rather a co-op where we all pool our money to buy things together.”

So, why does it matter that they are not incorporated as an actual co-op or non-profit? Because being a real co-op actually means something beyond putting your money in a collective pot to purchase a basket of goods–specifically, a co-op is a member-owned, democratically controlled enterprise that operates according to a specific set of principles. The Granary Food Co-op in Ortonville is one such incorporated cooperative, serving its member-owners and community since 1979.

Being a non-profit actually means something, too. Actual non-profits must report how their money is spent–but Bountiful Baskets is silent on the subject of staff, profits, or anything fiscally related other than the above-quoted “contribution” piece. Being a non-profit does not simply mean that you’re relying on local people to do work without being paid, which is a part of the Bountiful scheme.

Bountiful Baskets and its organizers talk about this service being a great community-building enterprise, and there certainly does seem to be a sense of camaraderie among the volunteers at pick-up sites from the comments and reviews I saw online. But, no money is retained in the local community from these online “contributions.” Food from Mexico and the southwestern U.S. comes in on a truck and gets sorted out and taken home by individual “contributors,” bypassing local grocery stores, local farmers markets, and yes, the local food co-op.

In short, Bountiful Baskets is simply a buying club–and one in which you’ll for the most part be purchasing things you can already get locally. Calling it a co-op or a non-profit or comparing it to a CSA (you never know what you’ll get!) or farmers market (all that produce!) is simply disingenuous–capitalizing on the good feelings people have for those things while not actually doing the things that make people feel good about them.

This is not to disparage those unpaid local organizers attempting to set up chapters in their communities–I can certainly empathize with the strain of sourcing good food on a budget–it is simply to tell the truth about what this business is and what it isn’t.

And it is also to ask specific questions: Where do the “contributions” go? Where does the food come from? Who is making money from this enterprise, and how much are they making?

Yes, ordering through Bountiful Baskets can save you money. But the money you’re saving over buying locally is money that pays for local jobs and local infrastructure in your community. It’s money that keeps the rent paid, the lights on, the coolers running, and the farmers farming. It’s money that pays for employees and the merchandise they stock on the shelves.

Building local food systems and increasing access to healthy food isn’t just about the food itself–it’s also about the role of healthy food and local grocery stores in a strong and diversified local economy. Sourcing cheaper produce by circumventing local retailers may be a boost for your family’s budget, but it should not be confused with real strategies for building and investing in community.

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32 responses

  1. A great article. I am glad someone else isn’t a fan of Bountiful Baskets. A couple of the farmers markets we attend have been hit hard by people not buying local. Another grower I know contacted Bountiful Baskets and asked if they would buy local produce to fill orders and they said no they were absolutely not interested.

  2. Yes bountiful baskets started to make an appearance last summer here. The local farmers market that had been operating for the past 5 years will not run this summer on Saturdays in the park.

  3. Wow. You sure are misinformed about Bountiful Baskets!! BB is just a co-op. it is not a business. It does not make money by selling produce or any other goods. All money contributed by anyone is completely used toward the whole purchase of the food by the co-op. The founders of the co-op, Sally and Tanya, as well as anyone who helps this great organization to run, do not take any money at all–the whole co-op is volunteer run by participants from the top to the bottom. The reason that the co-op can help your families save such tremendous cash is the buying power of the group as a whole. There is no income made, there is no re-selling, so therefore, it is not a business and it is not a non-profit in that even a non profit can make money–Bountiful Baskets is simply a co-op where people who are concerned about feeding their families fresh, wholesome food at a great price come together and make it happen. That being said, a co-op model is not for everyone. If you don’t want to take an hour out of your schedule once every 4-5 times you contribute to help distribute the food and save some cash, then it’s best you stick to the shelves at the store–but don’t go bashing something you really don’t understand or are unwilling to get all the information about.

    • Google Arizona Corporation Commission entity search and then search Bountiful Baskets, then click through to the pdf’s. 1,000,000 shares, two directors and shareholders. A Cooperative enterprise is owned by the people, not just the two directors. Co-ops elect their board and meet the International Cooperative Alliance identity, definitions, and values state.

      There is nothing wrong with this model, what is off is calling it a non-profit and a Co-op. With hundreds of sites across the country and maybe just a few dollars in profit and no employees, what do you think happens to the extra money left over? In a Co-op, it is shared by the community. You can bet your bottom dollar that there are thousands a week going to someone because they insist on volunteers and not paid staff.

      I’d be happy if they dropped Food Co-op and stopped calling it a non-profit when they were incorporated as a for-profit. For your basket, there are probably just pennies on the dollar that make it worth it for you, that’s fine. Just don’t tell me that this company is trading on the good name and reputation of Food Co-ops.

  4. Grocers in small towns actually report that sales go up because people request new things that they have tried through Bountiful Baskets. It is not a business or a non profit but rather a not for profit co op. 100 percent of contributions go towards the produce in the baskets. Everyone is a volunteer and the only one making a profit is the produce company selling to the co op at a reduced rate. The entire community benefits as people are eating healthy for less and have more money to spend on other items locally. Please do your research and actually speak to those involved. Also…the produce companies would love to haul back a full load of produce from Minnesota rather than have an empty truck. The farmers must be willing to meet certain requirements though.Bountiful Baskets has been a blessing to our family and community!

  5. How is volunteering a “scheme”?

    It’s a pity that you couldn’t be bothered to do any more research other than going to the website. You want to know finances? The locals, who hand you your baskets? Volunteers. The area coordinaters who facilitate complaints and compliments, who open sites, and who plot delivery routes? Volunteers. The co-founders? Volunteers. The owners aren’t even hard to get hold of, so theres no excuse for your lack of questioning in person. All it would have taken was a phone call, an email, or a message on facebook. Who gets paid? The farmers and the truck drivers. The FDA has even popped their head in once or twice, and recognizes BB’s co-op status, something you would have only had to ask your local health department to know.

    There are a lot of people who work very hard to make a variety of nutrition available on a trustworthy level, and with one fell swoop you diminish everything and everybody involved, including the local farmers who work with BB.

    BB isn’t for everybody. Because of its cooperative nature, you can’t use food stamps or WIC checks (although some farmers will personally work with customers on that, especially if they are loyal.) If you are on a limited diet for whatever reason, it may not work for you, as produce is selected only by local availability. Some people work on Saturdays, and aren’t able to make it to a pick up.

    Just because it isn’t for everybody, though, doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful to some. For some people, volunteering and receiving their free basket for helping out is the only produce their family will get. For others, the constantly changing produce is a way to experiment with stuff you’ve never seen before, never heard of before, or never thought you liked before. It is significantly cheaper than if you were to buy the exact same things (provided you could find all of them) in the grocery store, and shooting an email to Sally, one of the founders, will easily help you ascertain where your produce came from. BB has spawned a community of volunteers and food connoisseurs. It’s too bad you don’t want to be a part.

  6. I am so sorry to hear that you have some reservations about Bountiful Baskets. I participated in my local Bountiful Baskets in a very small town similar to yours. We did not have a lot of produce options other than the grocery stores all of which were big corporations. Bountiful Baskets is 100% volunteer run which means that nobody financially gains from it unlike other nonprofits where salaries are paid. As for your local farmers market and grocery store, many times they see an increase in their sales because people who participate in Bountiful Baskets have to supplement their baskets and they do so by buying locally. Many times Bountiful Baskets ends up using local farmers to fill their trucks with local produce before returning back as in the case of Washington Apples and Idaho Potatoes. These local relationships take time to happen and since it is so new to your state and city they aren’t there yet. I personally know first hand what a blessing that Bountiful Baskets can be to a community not just because of the produce they provide but with the relationships that are formed by community members and I really hope that you and your community will give Bountiful Baskets a try and if you have any questions defiantly make sure you ask before you assume they are doing something wrong.

  7. Bountiful Baskets are amazing! Bringing fresh affordable food to people. I am saddened by the ignorance of this blog. Don’t knock it until you have researched fully and try it.

  8. I understand well the skepticism related to an amazing idea such as Bountiful Baskets. When I first started contributing to the co-op 3 years ago in Idaho I couldn’t get my mind around it either. Let me tell you – Bountiful Baskets is a large part of my successful 75 pound weight loss. I had access to a variety and quality of produce unavailable in rural Idaho. We had 1 grocery store, open 6 days a week. We paid through the nose for fresh vegetables and fruit and it wasn’t fabulous quality.

    I have contributed to Bountiful Baskets consistently over the past 3 years. I also visited my local farmer’s market in Idaho, buying the few vegetables available there. See, though the folks there tried hard – it was high, desert mountains with poor soils and low moisture. I could not possibly have gotten all my fruits and vegetables from them. But, by no means did Bountiful Baskets hinder my participation and support of locally grown agriculture products.

    I now live in North Dakota, I thought perhaps I wouldn’t participate with Bountiful Baskets as much here, thinking that more stores would equal more competitive pricing… not so much. I find myself still participating with Bountiful Baskets Food Coop. But, I also have something that was unavailable to me in Idaho – a CSA that I can be a member of. I am signed up and can’t wait for weather to be such that I can start getting my locally grown produce. BUT, being North Dakota (something you in Minnesota can surely understand and appreciate), the season is short so I am grateful to have Bountiful Baskets to fill in the gaps. I still frequent all my local grocery stores for the rest of my food items, so, the idea that by utilizing Bountiful Baskets participants leave the local stores out in the cold, well that doesn’t quite hold true either.

    You make a lot of vague comments using words like “scheme” – well, I would encourage you to contribute for a basket and see what it really is all about before you disparage something. I would also encourage you to visit http://www.bountifulbaskets.org to read about the co-op. I am not going to parse words with you about a cooperative and such, I know that I get very good produce for a very small amount of money. And, if someone is going to get rich saving me money, at least it isn’t a giant corporation using sweatshops in Asia to make cheap clothing for a change.

  9. Wow. Obviously someone at the “top” got wind of this post and organized a number of people to respond–and all at once, too. Many of the comments here seem to be from those who have not actually read my post, or the commenters would recognize that a) I have actually done research and visited the Bountiful Baskets website (as well as talking to locals who have “contributed” to BB), and b) that a food cooperative IS a real, incorporated business, and many of them do accept SNAP and other forms of EBT.
    But thanks for commenting. Next time you do a coordinated effort to discredit, it might be less conspicuous to do it over a period of days or weeks, rather than all in one night.

    • Youre right, it is a horrible discrediting attempt; maybe thats because thats not what it is. Maybe, just maybe, someone read your blog and shared it. I would be more than hapoy to invite you to the facebook group that it was shared in so that you can see first hand the kind of things that are discussed (BB and otherwise). Worst case scenario, you think its horribly boring and exit stage left, right?

      If youd like to add me on facebook, you can search by my email or by my name Morgaine Donohue. Id love to get a chance to show that we are not (or at least I am not) out to get you.

      • Individual pick-up sites are not the problem. The problem is that there are inadequate Cooperative Enterprise corporate identity laws in Arizona. Anyone can call themselves a Co-op, but to truly follow the principles, they must meet the International Cooperative Alliance’s definition, identity and values.

        One member one vote, owned by the people, with profits shared. This is not BB at their website. They’ve never answered my query as to whether they are an ICA principled Co-op, they just ban me from their Facebook page.

        BTW same address as Kodiak Fresh Produce when you look at the Arizona Commission listing for BB that regulations corporations.

    • Perhaps you should try contributing yourself. Or if that is too much for you to swallow, actually go down and talk to people during distribution. Ignorance is a poor substitute for experience.

      And honestly, your post was shared by someone who participates at the site in Ortonville and was sad and upset that you obviously hadn’t done your homework (and honestly, reading a website and talking to one or two people who have actually participated can’t really be considered homework – instead, experiencing for yourself and speaking to the founders of the Bountiful Baskets is a much better form of research).

      I also live in a small town. Initially our grocery store hated Bountiful Baskets. Now, however, the produce manager blesses the day we came because people are coming to the store and buying more produce, and in fact the produce they are buying is more expensive (and until Bountiful Baskets came, unavailable at our store). I understand that many people hate change, especially if they don’t understand what is happening. It seems to be messing with the status quo. In the long run, however, change is good. Rather than stagnating in “what has always been”, people find that new things are often better, and more appropriate for their situations.

      In effect, you have stirred up a hornet’s nest with contributors. The founders of Bountiful Baskets care not if people choose to participate or not – it makes no difference because they are not making money from doing this (and yes, I also understand that many people have difficulty accepting altruism at face value, but I assure you that it does exist). Honestly, at this point, I doubt that anyone cares if you choose to participate or not. What they care about is you knocking something you don’t yet truly understand.

      BTW – we ALL understand that a “true” co-op is an incorporated business and that Bountiful Baskets is TRULY a buying club. We have chosen to “co-opt” the word Cooperative for ourselves because this is truly a cooperative effort. That is the difference between one definition and the next, the result of looking at only part of the story and making a determination and looking at the whole and seeing something for what it really is.

      It is obvious by your response that you are feeling attacked and that this is a coordinated effort. I would like to point out that you are the one that hit the hornet’s nest. This has resulted in what you feel is an attack, and what we feel is being protective of something we have all helped to build. Hopefully you can take a step back and realize that there is some constructive criticism here in addition to defending that which we love.

      If you want the opportunity to speak to many more participants, feel free to post questions on the Bountiful Baskets Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BountifulBaskets). There are close to 150,000 people that have “liked” the page, so perhaps what Bountiful Baskets does is more appreciated than you initially thought?

      • BB banned me from their Facebook page when I queried their Co-op status and have never replied. Do some looking at the Arizona Commission on Corporations. BB is also not a Non-profit as recorded in the incorporations papers. The problem is not with your local group, it’s in Arizona with a big company calling themselves a non-profit. Think of all the money being saved by Kodiak Produce when volunteers do the unloading and distributing.

        Who gets those pennies on each basket from thousands of sites across the country. Think that maybe they are trading on your reputation and the Food Co-op brand when they are neither a Food Co-op nor a non-profit?

        There is nothing wrong with their business model, just the way they “market” it.

    • So, the thing I most don’t understand about your original posting is – you never even waited for BBFC to actually arrive in town so that you could REALLY see what it is about. I can definitely understand your desire to promote local produce producers, so why didn’t you promote local CSAs or Co-ops by giving a direct comparison between BBFC and the local options? That would have been a great way to give the reasons one is better than the other.

      As for your advice to the commenters about being “less conspicuous” – if we had anything to hide we might do that. No one “organized” us, we saw an article slamming something we love and responded with heartfelt words.

      I am sorry you won’t know the fun of volunteering with BBFC, the joy of seeing your 7-year old want to help set out the baskets so she can “earn” an extra mango to give her teacher, or the joy of that same 7-year old being excited when Brussels sprouts are in the basket or knowing how yummy they are and asking you to buy them at the local grocery store because she loves them so much!

  10. Just to be clear. SNAP or food stamp cannot be used online. It is not bountiful baskets saying no, but the government not allowing it.

    Where do the “contributions” go? Where does the food come from? Who is making money from this enterprise, and how much are they making?
    All contributions go towards produce.
    All produce comes from farms, through the wholesaler. Same wholesaler that your local grocery store uses.
    Nobody is making the money, since all money goes to produce. You know, there are people out there who do things by the goodness of their hearts.

    “But the money you’re saving over buying locally is money that pays for local jobs and local infrastructure in your community. It’s money that keeps the rent paid, the lights on, the coolers running, and the farmers farming. It’s money that pays for employees and the merchandise they stock on the shelves.”
    Yes people save money by participating in bountiful baskets. The money they save will be spent in the local economy, for rent, for more locally sourced groceries, more gas locally, more on the farmers market, and more in the local hardware store…

    I see that you are all for local, but not many people like that. The sad reality is that people will buy cheap food at big ox stores, because they cannot afford the locally offered produce. They will not go to your local Granary Food Co-op in Ortonville, because they cannot afford to shop there. Instead they will make their trip to their local walmart to buy their groceries. How far is walmart? People will take their money elsewhere buy everything in the other town, not locally. How’s that support your town? It does not.
    When people get the majority of their produce locally they will not go out of town to get the rest, because the gas money would not make it worth to go that far. They will stay in town and pick up the rest locally. You will see, just give it some time.

    What you forget, is that people who started this are REAL people. Unlike the CEOs of those corporations we see around town at every corner. The founders of bountiful baskets are real people, real moms with real every day problems. People running sites are real people too. There are no fictitious entities hiding behind corporate headquarters. Just moms and dads, real people.

    Finally, my husband has a good saying about assuming too much. Lets just say, its better not to do that.

    CSAs are not for everyone. This is true for bountiful baskets too.

  11. While I to was very skeptical about this whole co-op thing, I had been watching neighbors bring home these mass quantities of amazing produce for a price that was affordable for my very large family. I decided maybe I should try as well to contribute to this organization as well as a few local co-ops that serve as local as they can food. I easily found because they were paying for buildings and such I got less produce and sacrificed quality. I also decided to skip the co-ops and head to the farmers market, I came home with 1/4 of the food I got from bountiful baskets for double the cost. For me personally I don’t care where it comes from if I can take care of my families dietary concerns on a budget. I am saddened that others have preconceived notions about it because for my family it is the only way. In the state I live in none of the co-ops take ebt or snap so this comes as no surprise to me either. But for my area Bountiful baskets keeps my community Healthy. I’m happy for those of you who are very fortunate to have great local produce for prices you can afford I’m not that lucky. All of the people posting to to this blog have something in common they care about their food. We are not obviously all that different we simply have different perceptions of what works for our families on our individual budgets.

  12. I really don’t think you deserve this attention but you have failed in your research. EBT and SNAP do not allow online transactions which is how BB participants contribute. Start with the FAQs on the website. Really wondering what your employer would think of your posting. Yep…did my research.

  13. Wow how sad we still live in a time where everything is a conspiracy. I participate in BBFC(Bountiful Basket Food Co-op) because it works for my family. I live in Phoenix Arizona. This is a town where I have all sorts of options to buy produce but have been participating with Bountiful Baskets for over 5 years because greedy chain stores overcharge for inferior produce from questionable sources. I now visit local farms and markets with my family because of the exposure to variety from BBFC. I also cook more buying ingredients, tools and using utilities which filters back to my local economy.

    No one asked me to comment. You have your agenda and I have mine, to feed my family as healthy as I can. I invite you to try BBFC its addicting, ask my kids they eat their veggies…

    This is one happy Basketeer! I hope your community finds a way to bring produce to your children in any way you can.

  14. So, as a wise person once said and flyingtomato purports to have done. Follow the money.
    My best guess is this boils down to one single issue. Someone is making money and it is not flyingtomato. And in the best spirit of Corporate America Culture; if you can’t beat the competition slander them, spread lies about them, and do everything you can to kill their business.
    Makes me wonder exactly what kind of people are working at the Granary Food Co-op in Ortonville; but based on this attempted expose, my best guess is they are little more than a group of greedy unscruplous scurrilous rascals that I wouldn’t be caught doing business with.

  15. What I would love to see, is the Granary Food Co-op in Ortonville and flyingtomato both post their financial statements for the last year down to the last penny made and spent.

    Do you make your money working in your community?
    How much money on an annual, or even monthly, basis do you spend in your community and how much is spent outside of your community?

    I am not talking just money spent on groceries, I am talking about a full accounting of every dollar earned and spent.

    If both can sufficiently demonstrate that neither of them have ever spent $15 on anything outside of their community, they may have a point. Otherwise they should both apologize, flyingtomato and the Granary Food Co-op, because evidently flyingtomato is speaking on behalf of the Granary.

    But, and maybe I am just too cynical, I don’t think they can.

    As such, the apology should include admitting to their hypocrosy as well as a personal vow on this forum to stop badgering people about spending $15 on vegetables from “outside of the community”.

    I will eagerly await your disclosure of how you, flyingtomato, manage to spend every dollar you make solely in your own community.

    • How about the Arizona BB HQ posting their accounts as well. Hypothetically let’s say there’s 50cents a basket not used to pay for shipping, goods or credit card processing. I’m gonna guess, 10,000 baskets a week across hundreds of sites. that’s close to a quarter million dollars a year and that’s just a conservative guess, not counting what is paid to Kodiak Fresh Produce.

      Why don’t they answer my questions as to their Co-op status and how are they a non-profit? Printing it on a webpage doesn’t qualify one to be non-profit without third-party verification.

      BTW do some research, Kodiak is at the same address as the Arizona incorporation papers for Bountiful Baskets, Inc. Google that and come back with your results.

      Again there is nothing wrong with this business model they chose, it is a buying club, but there is an international definition for Co-op and BB hasn’t answered how they meet that.

  16. Rebecca, this does seem like an organization that would lead one to have a lot of questions.
    1. How do Bountiful Baskets shoppers know for sure that 100% of the money goes to purchase the food and that no one in the organization itself makes a profit?
    2. Does Bountiful Baskets have an annual meeting where people can ask questions as member co-ops and many non-profit organizations do?
    3. Does Bountiful Baskets publish annual reports as non-profit organizations do?
    4. Are the financial records of Bountiful Baskets audited, as those of non-profit organizations are?
    If it doesn’t have any of these transparency and accountability measures that members co-ops and non-profit organizations have, then than the organization looks more like what you have labeled it, a buyer’s club, with a small volunteer requirement that reduces costs and, for some, creates a sense of shared community.
    It seems like the Bountiful Baskets supporters who have visited your website recently like the organization so much they might be willing for someone to make a profit, but it appears they don’t believe anyone is doing so right now. But is the organization is transparent enough that they can know that for sure?

    • You know we don’t have annual meetings, we don’t look at the books, I don’t know the audit practices. I really have never asked. Ya know why? Because not once have I ever gotten an amount of produce that wasn’t worth well more than I contributed for it. Is someone, somewhere, making a profit? I ABSOLUTELY hope so. I hope the wholesaler and the farmers that our produce come from are making a profit – because they are providing a fabulous product at a crazy cheap price. Seriously, organic blueberries were recently available to us for a contribution of $22.50 per case of 12- 6oz packages. That amount was less half the cost of conventionally grown blueberries in our local stores at the time. So, if the wholesaler can provide them to us at that price, and make a profit, awesome.

      • Again, there is nothing wrong with this model. Just don’t market as a non-profit when incorporation papers show otherwise and don’t call it a Co-op when Corporate HQ in Arizona is not incorporated as a Co-op but a for-profit Corporation. BTW Co-op laws in Arizona are weak or non-existent. Google Sierra Vista Food Co-op in Arizona and look at their FAQ about where they are incorporated and why.

        Search it yourself because if I link it here I may be accused of making it up and not doing my research. Oh, and check out the address for Kodiak Fresh Produce in Arizona, it matches that of BB at their website.

        Nothing wrong with making a profit, but don’t tout that if there are 1,000,000 shares outstanding for Bountiful Basket’s Inc with only two Directors being the sole shareholders. Click on the papers link at the Arizona Commission that handles and regulates incorporation papers.

    • I have no BB Facebook page to point to. Each time I post asking about their Co-op status, they delete my post and ban me from posting at the Bountiful Basket’s Facebook page.

      They don’t appear to like questions at Arizona Corporate HQ.

  17. As you may have heard, this organization is coming to Vermillion and these comments have made me about 1000% more suspicious about this whole deal than I would’ve been otherwise. Legitimate organizations have publicly available documentation, period. Even if no one make any money. Even if they’re 100% volunteer run. The over-the-top responses to the suggestion that maybe that’s important (as well as the lack of understanding of co-op as an actual legal designation) come off as really sketchy.

  18. Please focus on the HQ in Arizona. The local groups are doing a buying club and there is nothing wrong with the Bountiful Baskets’s business model. However they don’t meet the ICA standard and are not owned by the drop-off and pick-up site local groups.

    This blogger hasn’t dinged you, you’ve just been marketed by this company calling themselves and saying things that need to be verified from other sources and not just their FB page and website. They are not in good standing as a corporation in Arizona with 1,000,000 shares outstanding and the two listed Directors as the sole shareholders.

    A Co-op is an enterprise owned by the consumers or workers, BB is not owned by any of the volunteers. Is it?

    Look up Kodiak Fresh Produce and Bountiful Baskets and you’ll notice the same address. Do you believe everything you read at their site? Google other Co-ops in your area and read up on the International Cooperative Alliance Principles and you’ll notice all storefront Co-ops have them listed or linked from their websites. Anything at BB’s site? Can you verify what they write on their site?

    Is the cheap price so valued that you’ll settle for GMO or pesticide sprayed produce? Not pay local taxes and send your money to Arizona?

    Study up on Co-ops before you through in with Bountiful Baskets. Again, it is a buying club model and there is nothing wrong with that, just don’t call yourself a Co-op when you don’t meet the Principles.

  19. You want to know the kind of money my basket is stealing from my local stores? Two weeks ago I bought a 40lb case of lemons for twenty something dollars. I then went and spent $36 at the local craft store for containers to put limoncello and candied lemon peels into. Later I realized I didn’t have enough so I went back and bought another $17 worth. And, needing one more container made yet another trip to buy one last container for $7. So that was $50 into my local economy not counting gas or the other errands I decided to run or food I grabbed to eat because I was out and about town. Or the other ingredients I bought locally like some citric acid and pure cane sugar. Basil, colored sugars from the local bake shop.

    That’s not counting the two cases of canning jars I bought from the local grocery store to can lemonade and strawberry lemonade concentrate.

    And this past week, I bought a 38lb case of oranges for around $23. Causing me to go out and purchase another 2 cases of canning jars to can orange juice and marmalade.

    Were it not for those lemons and oranges, I would have had no need for any of the things I bought beyond perhaps the basil. So BB helps me spend in my local economy plenty.

    AND, most importantly, as a household that spends absolutely NO MONEY at walmart or sam’s (I refuse to give the Waltons a single penny) BB is vital to keeping us from having to use walmart which is one of only TWO brands of grocery store in this town.

  20. I see this post was written some time ago. But after reading the thoughtful post and ensuing comments, I feel like the author needs to be recognized for exploring the role of Bountiful Baskets in rural communities. I too work in local food economies and rural community development. The topic here come up so often. As consumers, it is a wonderful thing to have the freedom of choice. I strongly believe it is our responsibility to make informed choices. Many people in my community contribute to BB regularly and many have asked as to why I don’t participate. While I have many reasons, there is one that I regularly share. I’ll share it here in hopes it will help support at bit of what the author was conveying about local food in rural communities.

    I enjoy the bounty of food that follows the seasons. I grow and buy a diversity of food throughout the growing season. I preserve it for use throughout the winter months. I don’t want to be trying to find ways to use an excess of carrots during the winter months when I have plenty still from the fall. I value the stories about where my food comes from and who grew it. I have worked too hard to build those relationships and connections to trade them in for a basket of savings.

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