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Monday, November 21, 2011

Food club

Okay, you're out beyond the city limits, the garden is put to bed, the bean pot's simmering, the cat's asleep on your chair, you don't feel like prepping next year's spud bed in this much wind, and you know you're not quite ready to pull everything out of the bedroom so you can paint.

And maybe you're not prepared to envision yourself running a fruit stand or CSA and spending time with agricultural regulators of one kind or another. Yet, anyway.

What to do?

Well, you can get to know your local organic wholesaler and see if they do food clubs.

Our wholesaler requires your club to buy a minimum of $150 a month. That's really all. You murmur among yourselves as to who wants what when where and how, then a call is placed or email sent, and the next day your representative appears at the dock with a check and heads home to the scales (you'll need scales) to do any splitting of orders (most things are in 25 or 50 pound bags). Then typically either everyone comes over for a distribution party or you head out with the prepped load and meet folks at a prearranged location.

We've tended to do this the latter way as I am out in the sticks and my friends all still work in town. Benefits include: I get to see them once in a while, I get kudos, my friends and I get wholesale prices on bulk items that are organically grown, wholesome and nutritious, we get to educate ourselves on where our eats come from and what it takes to move food around, and we get to support a burgeoning local bean-and-grain farming and supply chain.

The food club can be about as informal as you want. With a full-blown co-op, you can do more, and for more people, but it's more complex and there are more opportunities for some of those involved to burn out on the inevitable stress. You need not invest so much of yourself in the food club that when it starts to go down, and they can do so for many reasons, just like a co-op or business, your heart and soul need not go down with it.

And should the need arise, you can always start it up again. Assuming there are still farmers, wholesalers and trucks when that time comes.

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