Tag Archives: co-op

Ethical Products to Give For Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time to think of family and friends, but take the time to think about others. This isn’t just about what you buy, but who you buy it for. Here are some great ethical gifts to give for Christmas.

Rethink What’s Needed

Ethical Christmas presentsA part of the problem with Christmas as most of us celebrate is is the emphasis on consumerism. Take the time to really think about what makes a good gift for those you love. Think about what you ask for when people want to know what to get for you.

Fair Trade Products

Take the time to think of those who made the products you’re buying and look into Fair Trade options. You can find Fair Trade clothing, chocolate, coffee, jewelry, sporting equipment, toys and much more.

Amazon.com Fair Trade Merchandise
Gifts With Humanity
The Ultimate Green Store
Earth Divas

Help Someone Else

Perfect for that person who has everything, give a gift in someone’s name. You can use this as an example for your children too. Make sure it’s a cause they agree with, and that the charity makes good use of the money you send.

Charities that provide livestock are popular, as are programs which allow you to lend money to entrepreneurs.

Charity Navigator
Charity Watch

Sign Up for a Food Co-op

Why not sign up for fresh produce from a food co-op? Check Local Harvest and other directories for co-ops available in your area. Not only do you get wonderful food, you get a variety you may not be used to, which encourages trying new recipes.

Heirloom Seeds

For the gardener in your life, think about providing some interesting heirloom seeds to grow. This may be more of a stocking stuffer than a full gift for some, but it can still be a lot of fun.

How to Find Organic or Local Produce for Less

People often complain about the cost of organic and local produce, and rightfully so. It’s hard to buy them on many budgets. Since I’m working this month on buying local and/or organic produce for my family this month, I thought I would share some tactics for getting it for less.

Join a Co-op

This is where I’m getting my organic produce right now. The co-op tries for local as well, but that doesn’t always work out since they run year-round.

What I like about them is that since they are not attached to a particular farm they can respond to member preferences. There’s a thread on the member discussion board for people to ask for things they’d like to see in their baskets. You also don’t have to worry about crop failures. They buy what they can find from a variety of sources each week.

The challenge is in learning how to cook some of what is provided. This group provided my first experience with collard greens, for example. But that means more excuses to experiment with recipes!

Join a CSA

A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a way to buy a share of a farmer’s production in advance. It’s much like the co-op I’m a member of, except that it’s attached to a particular farm.

You really don’t know what you’re going to get each week, so once again it’s an excuse to try new recipes.

Visit the Farmer’s Market

In my experience, some farmer’s markets have really great prices, others not so much. You may have to shop around a little to find the one that has the best combination of prices, produce and quality in your area.

Not all produce at farmer’s markets will be either local or organic, but you’re always free to ask. And even if the prices aren’t spectacular they can be cheaper than the prices for organic produce at the grocery store. Just know your prices well enough to be sure of what you’re getting into.

You can also check back late in the day to see if anything has been marked down so that the farmer doesn’t have to haul it back. This won’t always work, and of course it’s been picked over all day, but it can be worth a shot.

Start Your Own Garden

If you have some space, this can be a lot of fun. It can add up if you aren’t careful about the supplies you buy, but for organic gardening you shouldn’t be spending a ton on fertilizers and such anyhow. You’ll do far better if you can get a good compost pile going.

Gardening can be both delightful and frustrating. Sometimes you’ll get an amazing harvest. Other times you’ll get nothing, and of course everything in between.

If you live in an area with water shortages, gardening may not work so well. I found it harder to keep a garden really thriving when we had a lot of rules about which days and times we could water. Just kind of limiting and hard to deal with on the hottest of summer days.

Don’t forget to share excess produce from your garden with neighbors. Not only is it fun, if they have excess they’re likely to reciprocate.

First Week with the Organic Produce Club

As I noted in my post for the One Small Change challenge, I joined an organic produce buying club, and this past Saturday was our first pick up. It went pretty well, except I forgot my reusable bag and our produce had to just rattle around in the trunk. Not quite ideal.

But the produce looked and looks mostly good. A small container of blueberries was included, which delighted the kids. The selection was pretty good, including some fresh cilantro and some other herbs along with the vegetables and fruit.

The organic carrots are gone already. One of my nieces came for a visit over the weekend. She’s an exceptionally picky eater but has learned to love carrots. At home she always gets those “baby” carrots that I’ll admit are quick and convenient, but lack any other advantages.

She loved the organic carrots. Nice, whole, just wash and eat carrots. It was really good to see that she could cope with them looking different from what she gets at home because that’s very often a big issue for her. And now her parents know that they can just buy her regular carrots if they want.

The produce included some collard greens, which I’m not so familiar with, but that’s a part of the plan, to have to figure out how to use certain foods. I didn’t want to do that this weekend with the picky eater possibly demotivating my kids, but now it’s all fair game!

I don’t know if we’ll make it out every week or so… that’s something I still have to discuss with my husband. The price is good for organic produce, I must say. We’ve been eating conventionally grown produce so long that the price difference is still there, and on our budget I do have to think about that. But we’re definitely doing more weeks. The exposure to different foods is worth it, as is supporting local farms with at least part of the purchase and getting organic produce.

Joining an Organic Produce Buying Club

I’ve come up with my first goal for the One Small Change for this month. I came across it pretty much by coincidence. My husband happened to comment that one of his coworkers had sent him an email about an organic produce buying club he was in and really liked, and forwarded it to me.

They look really good, and as much as possible they buy from local organic farms. And it’s only $22 a week for this co-op, plus $10 per year. They pool the money to get organic foods at wholesale prices.

Eating local is always a great goal. We used to do pretty well at the old house in Poway with our garden some years. Moving in mid summer meant that this year we didn’t get that benefit.

Anyhow, I’m paying my money and the first pickup will be on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it.