User Interview: Organics To You weekly produce delivery service

Organics To You is Portland’s premier (only?) organic produce delivery company, operating in this city since 2001.  After signing up, they will deliver fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables to your door weekly. Prices start at $33 per week for the smaller bin. There are no signup fees, extra costs, or contracts and you can cancel at anytime. They deliver all over the Portland area–from Hillsboror to Sandy and deeeep Vancouver to Wilsonville. They also deliver to apartments and condos. I like the sound of that.  To learn more about what it is all about, I email interviewed our dear friends Mike and Stephanie Glickman!

Hi guys! Thanks for taking the time to do this, I know with a new born baby girl,TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, so I appreciate it alot. I like the idea of interviewing someone that uses a fresh produce delivery service (rather than the company themselves) so that we can get a balanced view of what service they provide. I think Organics to You may be the most popular service in the Portland area, and the prospect of having fresh food delivered to my door every week is intriguing to me, so I hope to learn alot from this interview. Maybe I will pull the trigger and do it myself!

How long have you used the service?
About 6-8 months.

Which package to you subscribe to?
Small produce bin for $33 per week

What made you want to do it? Did you research other delivery services?
We heard about it in the Chinook book (first time users get their 5th bin for FREE!), and my sister used to get it. The only other delivery services I know of are the grocery stores (like New Seasons). We decided it was important for us to eat organic produce, and we were going to New Seasons for our produce like 3 times per week! I comparison shopped with New Seasons online, and Organics to You was actually cheaper, plus they deliver! No brainer! We also thought it would be fun to eat more seasonally and sort of be forced to eat stuff we don’t normally buy.

What do you like about it?
I like going to the grocery store less, the surprises in the interesting selection, how it has opened my mind to more diversity in produce, and that we probably eat more at home (saving us money) because we want to make the most out of our produce.

What do you dislike about it?
With only one delivery per week, sometimes the less hearty veggies go bad towards the end of the week. You want to eat your greens and stuff early in the week. However, they offer storage tips to keep your produce as fresh as possible.

What day of the week does your produce arrive at your house?
Monday (BN: that is ideal)

Do you ever have too much produce/ too little produce in the week?
Depends on the week. If we know we are going to have a busy week like be out of town for most or all of it, or we know we won’t be able to cook much, we try to stop delivery service for that week. But sometimes things come up unexpectedly and we aren’t able to cook every night of the week. In that case, our produce goes bad before we can use it. The only time we have too little produce is if there is something specific we want to make. Like last week we had our bbq and we wanted to have tomatoes and onions on our burgers, but we didn’t get that in the bin, so we had to buy those items at the store. However, with careful meal planning, we can make the most of it.

Is it literally straight out of the dirt , or has the produce been cleaned before you get it? How about the salad mix?
It is pretty much like you get it in the store (you should wash it). But it is not covered in dirt. The salad greens mix usually comes in a produce bag, and I am not sure if it is washed yet. It does not seem dirty, but I throw it in the salad spinner just in case. Loose leaf spinach, lettuce, and kale for example definitely need to be washed.

Does the price of the service justify itself compared to going to the grocery store every week? Do you go to the grocery store much less now?  Of course you still need to visit the grocery store, but maybe you skip the veggie aisles now?
If we weren’t buying all organic produce, it would probably be cheaper to shop at the store. However, compared to New Seasons, it is cheaper. We used to go to the grocery store like 3-4 times a week, now it is closer to 2. For the most part, we skip the produce section now. In fact, since we are only buying things like dairy, meat, grains, beans, cereal, etc. we can shop at places like Grocery Outlet for those things and it is cheaper. Or, we can go to the meat market down the street if we only need meat.

What is the most unusual item you have seen in the box?
Steph: Kiwi berries (like a cross between kiwis and grapes…weird! Plus they are grown locally.) and sunchokes (kind of like potatoes only with a more buttery almost artichokey flavor).
Mike: I thought the most unusual thing I’ve seen was the celeriac. I was all, we’re supposed to eat that? But it was pretty good!!!

Since they bring seasonal stuff, do you get only cabbage and potatoes in the winter? Irish stew for every meal? :)
In the fall and early winter, you do get a lot of root veggies and squashes and stuff because our local farms are so abundant with these items, but during the later winter and early spring (now) they have to get some produce from California or Mexico. We always get about 13 DIFFERENT items. We have learned lots of great recipes for root veggie casseroles and soups and stuff. Sooo yummy!

Whats your favorite fruit? Vegetable? Banana Nick LOVES bananas and bell peppers.
Steph: Mike likes the oranges and apples a lot, I like the bananas and kiwis. My favorite veggie is red bell peppers.
Mike: My favorite fruit is probably a tie between tomatoes and strawberries!!! Tomatoes are more versatile, so I’ll give them the nod. My favorite vegetable: Red bell peppers. Or is that a fruit? It has seeds…. I like onions too. And yams.

OK, guess thats it! Thanks alot for the interview!
Your welcome! I look forward to reading your blog.

The contents of the $33 bin on April 16, 2012…..

Stephanie was kind enough to list their weekly dinner plans using the $33 bin they received the week of April 16, 2012:

Monday: big salad with spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, and apples from this weeks bin plus lettuce and tomato leftover from our bbq the other day.

Tuesday: stir-fry with bok choy, mushrooms, cabbage, leeks, and carrots from this weeks bin plus tofu and rice from the store.

Wednesday: broccoli beef using broccoli from our bin, the rest of the stuff from the store.

Thursday: Salmon with sautéed greens (kale & spinach from the bin) and asparagus (also from the bin).

Friday: fish or chicken tacos with cabbage, and carrots from this weeks bin, cilantro, fish or chicken and tortillas from the store.

That is a fairly healthy dinner plan for the week, however it doesn’t include other meals. There was enough produce this week for each of us to have one piece of fruit per day. Mike eats out for lunch every day, and I usually eat leftovers.

—————————————————————————-

So there you have it. For convenience sakes, it really makes sense to do the delivery service. You can swap vegetables or fruits that you dont like for no extra fee, very cool. I know with my wife’s (Banana Mama? haha she will hate that) and I work schedules, it would be amazing to come home and see a box of fresh produce waiting for us. We tend to shop on Sundays so that takes time out of our precious weekend. I checked the Organics to You website and see that my delivery date would be Tuesday. I guess that would work. The only conundrum now is wondering how much I should order for every week. Banana Nick loves his fruit, I tend to eat at least 6 pieces of fruit a day, so I bet we would still need to supplement. I will keep you posted on what we decide. It would be worth a try for a week to see how it goes, especially without any contract or upfront costs.

Let me know your experience with Organics to You and check out their website for more information. They seem to update their current produce list every week.

BN Out

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