Alex Adamson wakes up at 7 a.m. every Saturday to drive across town and pick up a basket full of fresh produce. While she misses the opportunity for a few extra hours of sleep after a busy week, the surprise and varied assortment of fruits and vegetables is worth it.
Along with other Provo residents and thousands of people across the country, Adamson participates in a food co-op called Bountiful Baskets. Bountiful Baskets is a grassroots co-op that has no employees and works towards providing families with inexpensive, fresh produce. The most basic basket requires a $15 donation that buys the produce to be distributed in the baskets. Participants are encouraged to volunteer with Bountiful Baskets every six to eight cycles that they get baskets, as the company is run by volunteers only.
Adamson, a recent BYU graduate from Spokane, Wash., first heard about Bountiful Baskets through a roommate who suggested splitting a basket’s worth of produce between the two of them.
“The amount you get for the price is really great,” Adamson said. “My roommate and I would always split the basket, which came out to less than ten bucks each and had more produce than we could eat in a week.”
The variety of fruits and vegetables offered in the basket helps encourage participants to change up their food intake and try new meals. Bountiful Baskets doesn’t have a set list of produce that is distributed each. Rather, baskets are filled with whatever produce is in stock that week.
“I loved getting a mix of produce that I wouldn’t normally pick out on my own,” Adamson said. “You don’t know ahead of time what will be in the upcoming week’s basket or get to choose what is included, so I learned how to cook with new ingredients like spaghetti squash and kale, and learned I love grapefruit, red pears and plums — items I normally wouldn’t have gone for at the grocery store.”
Morgan Mead, a senior studying exercise science from Las Vegas, looks forward to the assorted produce of the baskets.
“Each time you get a basket it usually has six types of vegetables and six types of fruit,” Mead said. “Even though they can sometimes include produce you are not used to eating or cooking, it is usually very delicious and healthy by adding variety to your diet.”
Porter Charles, a junior studying public health from Scottsdale, Ariz., sometimes found the more unusual vegetables to be a challenge to cook with.
“I got a bunch of things in the basket and I didn’t know what it all was,” Charles said. “I got four heads of kale, and I ended up having to give it to some vegan in my ward because I wasn’t sure what to do with them.”
Adamson credits Bountiful Baskets for changing her eating habits to consuming healthier foods.
“I saw my eating habits change from prepackaged snacks to almost all produce,” Adamson said. “Some weeks I skipped a basket, thinking I would save money by buying my own produce, but that never really turned out to be the case, and I often regretted it.”
Bountiful Baskets is not for the faint of heart when it comes to eating produce. Participants can take it as a personal challenge to find creative ways to eat everything in their basket.
“I think only those that eat a lot of produce should participate because it is only a cheap way to get produce if you eat it all before it goes bad,” Mead said. “I know a lot of people that liked bountiful baskets but the produce went bad before they were able to eat it all so they had to stop participating.”
A wide variety of not-your-everyday-produce encourages participants to be inventive in their cooking and eat healthier. To sign up for a Bountiful Basket on your own, visit the Bountiful Basket website at www.bountifulbaskets.org.