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Food @ your door: Everyone's doing it, right?

Ct001_2 There's something really appealing about having food magically appear on our front porch, especially given the multiple barriers between me and the grocery store these days.  Plus, somehow I figure that if it lands on our porch, we'll eat it, brussel sprouts and all.  My husband says no, it'll just rot.  And he's the cook in our house, so his opinion carries serious weight. 

One friend introduced me to the Noris Dairy idea (my kids drank that r-e-a-l milk like it was a narcotic), and someone else raved about her Organics To You delivery (and after a quick visit to its web site, I admit to liking the varied options re box size and contents).  And then there's Azure Standard for bulk items. 

It's (really) nice to have so many options, and in the slow food capital of the country, I'm not surprised.  But which to choose?  47th Avenue Farm is right in town (and a true CSA), and then there are those groovy new businesses that'll farm your yard - or someone else's - and give you the edible results.  Like The Backyard Farmer.

So have you signed up for one of these services?  If so, which one?  Thumbs up or thumbs down?  Eating more veggies or just composting more on the back end?  'Cause I'm ready to sign me up.  If for no other reason than the excitement for the kids of ripping open the box to see what's there. 


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I LUV Organics to You, esp their "Kid Bin". It's just what I need to get through the week, arrives at my door every Monday, always fresh and quality. With a bit of extra effort, I manage to use up everything. I find the trick is to wash, cut, chop, bag everything the day you get it. Otherwise the "fresh from the farm" carrots, beets, lettuce, etc will sit in their dirt a few days and get a bit droopy, and you're less likely to use them if you're used to store-bought, nicely packaged produce, lol.
Can't say enough about Organics to You!

How timely - I am currently feeling out these same things. I am tired of big grocery stores and am searching for better (and still affordable) options. I am trying to build up an Azure Standard order that meets the minimum, I am awaiting my first Organics to You delivery, and I'm hoping to find a 'gardening coach' rather than someone who does it all for me. (anyone know of something like Urban Farm School in WA that's right here in Portland?) I'm eager for the day when I realize it's been months since I've set foot in a grocery store, and I didn't even miss it.

I was an Organics to You customer for three years. This summer the produce was horrible - arriving rotten even. When we finally complained about white strawberries delivered in August, Chris (the owner) responded in an unacceptable way. Good luck to you if you don't like what they decide you should have or you have any special needs.

I looked into Backyard Farmer but sadly our yard is too small unless we did nothing but veggies. The woman seemed really nice though. My neighbor is a huge Norris Dairy fan but we drink more milk in a week than our fridge can hold from one delivery. Hopefully when my toddler is a little less milk dependent we can give them a try.

I am looking into different CSA options for next year.

unfortunately, we had a similar experience (as sarah c.) with organics to you. the first two boxes were fantastic! and then they slowly went downhill from there. rotten food. completely unripe food. the kicker was when i started paying attention to what was in the box and realized it was all being brought up from south america and mexico. NO THANKS. imported and rotten. ugh.

anyway, we've tried O2Y 3 separate times and had the same experience every time- the first couple boxes would be great and then they'd be gross after that.

i've found that i'd much rather eat with the seasons and as local as possible. i'm not saying we do, but we sure try.

Sadly, I had the same experience with Organics to you as the last two comments. The first couple of boxes were great, but I started noticing that alot of the produce was imported, even if it was in season locally. It was a bummer, and such a great idea, nothing like getting a present on your doorstep every week with veggies in it, my two little men were always stoked to help me sort it, clean it, and put it away.. We love Limbo produce in SE, that is where we go now....

And, oh, check out a few suggestions from a previous conversation on CSAs here:

For several years running, we've belonged to the Dancin' Roots CSA. Farmer Shari used to live in our NoPo neighborhood before she purchased her farm, just outside Troutdale, and she still does a weekly dropoff here that we can walk or bike to. One of the nice things about our CSA is that we pick out the vegies that constitute our share ourselves, so if someone comes home from a pickup w/ a rotting vegie, we only have ourselves to blame. ;)

Regarding overabundance, you know, you can always just give what you don't want or can't use to the neighbors, if they'll take it. We sometimes have more we can use regardless of its source (CSA, farmer's market, grocery store)...

We have been a part of Suavie Island Organics for over 6 years and Love them! The vegetables are superb, the people are warm. Yes, there are ups and downs as with all farming, some year a bug might get most of the cabbage they plant, or you might be hauling home 15lbs of tomatoes every week during summer along with all the other veggies, or wonder "how in the heck do I prepare a turnip?" but it's a great healthy yummy adventure. The best part is the veggies are grown so close, they are picked that morning and are organic. What's not to love!

We used Organics to You for a winter a few years ago and had a good experience, sorry to hear maybe things have changed there. I didn't find the system flexible enough to continue though and enjoyed using Pioneer Organics last winter because of their totally flexible system. Every Friday they'd email me with the next week's order, I could then go into the system and customize for our house. I also liked knowing what was coming so that I could get a rough meal plan going with those fruits and veggies in mind. On their system you could also see where the produce was coming from and choose between local and imported items, which I thought was nice. The one time they delivered something bad I called them and they credited it back to my account--no questions asked, it was wonderful and refreshing and easy.

It's a nice service for sure, but we already eat quite a variety of produce, and we eat a lot of it--I never found that the weekly delivery was enough for our house for the week, so I always had to supplement with another trip to the store later in the week. And although I could also order other grocery items like milk, bread, etc. it didn't take away my need for grocery shopping so it wasn't really saving me much time in the end.

I'm one of those people who has quit shopping at the grocery store. We buy our meat farm-direct, produce at farmers markets or People's Co-op (which has a year-round FM on Wednesdays), and getting the rest of our groceries from Azure. (I have an open drop in outer NE Portland, Jacquline, if you are interested).

I tried CSAs a couple times several years ago, but found always had problems with the quantity, rather than the quality. Usually way too much lettuce and too few other things...like one small eggplant or 1 pound of potatoes (I rarely cook less than 3 pounds of taters at a time). I love the idea of CSAs--directly investing in the farmers who grow our food--but it didn't work for me in practice. Also, this time of year, I love buying produce like apples, squash, potatoes, etc. in bulk, either farm-direct or through Azure, as they store well and I don't have to stock up as often.

I've not used them personally, but Organics To You did donate a boatload of produce to a preschool program I worked with this summer. Chris was very accommodating in giving us produce the kids would enjoy. He did seem a bit stressed in person, but his heart was in the right place. Sorry to hear of others' bad experiences.

I'm thinking about ordering from Spud! which is pretty new to Portland. Has anyone tried them yet? My brother-in-law uses them up in Seattle and thinks they are fabulous. They have a good coupon in the Chinook book. The website is www.spud.com. They are supposed to focus on local products + calculate how many miles the food you order traveled. I'm intrigued....

Our family has had a really GOOD experience with Organics to You!

we used Organics to you several months this year and had a good experience overall. They were pretty reasonable and willing to make corrections whenever they made a mistake (forgot the eggs, delivered our produce to the neighbor, etc). I would go back to supporting them again, we just ended up not using everything, we are pretty heavy fruit eaters and I ordered the regular box trying to force us to be more creative with our veggies. I want to start again but this time ordering only the fruit bin.

I was the first commenter here who raved about Organics to You- just wanted to clarify that we only use them during winter months when making it out to the Farmer's Market is less appealing (no car). They do well in the winter, and if you find you aren't using things like beets or kale, seriously try the Kids Bin. There is more fruit but still some veggies like carrots, green beans, cauliflower, etc.
I've only once been delivered the wrong yogurt (sometimes I get a few of their grocery items) and they didn't charge me for it and corrected it. I have exchanged a few emails with Chris over last winter and he always seemed really nice.
Good luck everyone!

We subscribed to Pumpkin Ridge Gardens for one year and were very happy with it. They delivered to our doorstop every Tuesday, year round. We loved it and we ate up most of the vegetables each week, even the ones my husband and children didn't *love*. I bought and used the "Victory Garden Cookbook" and we ate a lot more veggies then. They also offered beautiful huge bouquts of flowers for about $7. Even though we are on a really tight budget, I think we are going to start up again and it should save me some money on my weekly grocery bill.

I used Spud for a little while. Originally, I was using Organics to You but found their deliveries too rigid and didn't like that I couldn't customize. I switched over to Pioneer Organics, which I LOVED. It was so easy to go in and taylor my order every week for exactly what I needed. They were bought out by Spud and I noticed a huge price jump after that. I quite their service when it became cheaper just to go down the street to New Seasons. They do offer a good variety of local produce though and it is definitely convenient. I love the idea of Noris Farm and a CSA. I have a 4 month old, so we will probably find another way to get local food before she starts eating solids.

We have done both Organics to You and Azure Standard. There are ups and downs to both but we are getting ready to start doing Azure again. Organics to You did have mixed results with the quality of food and I did notice that they were getting the produce from all over. We stopped at the start of summer because of the farmer market.

As for Azure it is worth it if you can go in on the drop with other people. They have a great selection of organic and bulk goods, like Costco but better. There has to be a min order of $550/drop and min of $50/person[family] so going in on an order is the way to go.

That said if there are people who are interested in going in on a drop in North Portland [Killingsworth & 7th area] let me know and we can work something out. The next drop is on the 19th and orders need to be placed by the 16th.

Sorry for so much news about Azure but it is fresh on the brain.

We are signed up with Organics to You, and have been for 3 bins so far. We do every other week. So far so good! We are getting the kids bin and haven't had anything rotten. We have had a few things that we haven't used, but mostly we have used everything and enjoyed it. I was delighted with last week's bin which had cranberries, a pie pumpkin and two pomegranates just in time for Thanksgiving.

For what it's worth, I'm a long-time fan of New Seasons' delivery service. They've always resolved any problems quickly and with a smile, I can get all the stuff that I would normally buy at the store, and I don't have to actually GO to the store.

i stopped going to the grocery store last february, and i don't miss it one bit! :)

at first, i started out by getting deliveries from O2Y and azure, and we also signed up for a CSA share from sauvie island organics and it's been good for veggies. very fresh and yummy! this week was the last for the season though, so i am sad about that.

but i have since found many more suppliers for organic, local, in season foods. you can read about our food buying activities here: http://www.portlandgreenparenting.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=72

by the way, O2Y is convenient door step delivery, but azure drops are a lot of work-- you have to unload the truck, sort, weigh, divide etc (at least if you share food with other families, like we do). not that i'm trying to deter anyone-- i MUCH prefer to do it this way than go to the store. it's really great!

Hmm, I'm astounded to hear that so many people were disappointed by Organics To You, since my experience with them has been excellent, and I've been subscribing every week for years.

In contrast to some other commenters, the thing I've been most impressed by with O2Y is the condition of the food when we get it. It is in so much better shape than the typical stuff at the grocery store, and that makes me want to eat more of it. I have had some things (mostly pears) arrive a little green, but then you just wait it out.

It's true that not everything they deliver is local, but a lot of it is -- during summer and fall, almost all.

I look at the "mostly local" aspect of their service as a mixed blessing. Some of the local food we get from them is truly great food. And I know that local sources definitely affect what they send out because in the fall and winter we get a lot of apples and pears (local products).

But going 100% local is a pretty dramatic choice... it means limiting your food choices significantly. I'm not in favor of getting everyday food from the southern hemisphere, but a choice of "mostly local, plus oranges from California" doesn't seem too bad, and my 3-year old likes those oranges a lot. I would totally recommend O2Y.

I've got the CSA Pumpkin Ridge Gardens and I'm feeling mixed about it now. It's about $70 a month for a half share, and I find myself buying a lot of vegetables on the side to compensate. Since we're on such a tight budget, I think I can do better myself.

We've been with 47th Avenue Farm, a CSA, for a couple of years now and love it. The produce is always top quality, and the farmer who runs the CSA is very nice to boot. Thanks to the weekly (spring/summer) pickups and bi-weekly winter pickups, we purchase little other produce. Not much reaches the compost pile, but sometimes it can be challenging to force yourself to cook everything. The only down side is that there is a huge waiting list for people/families waiting to join the CSA. I believe I heard that there are 500 people on the waiting list. I feel lucky that we joined Laura's CSA when we had the chance.

I've used both Organics to You and Spud. I like both, but I found making changes/modification to my Organics to You box difficult, and sometimes had deliveries arrived when I'd cancelled/suspended them, and/or charges go through on cancelled stuff, etc. They were always nice about it, and it would eventually get resolved, but it required too much monitoring and sending e-mails back and forth for my liking. Spud is a little more high tech/automated and can be easily modified. They also have a wider variety of goods, and I can modify my cart exactly to hit my price point. For me, it doesn't replace going to the store, but it means that I can go longer between shopping trips and make sure I'm stocked up on certain essentials during the workweek, when I don't have much time for shopping. I do tend to suspend the service during the summer, when I'm likely to go to our local farmer's market.

We've been with a CSA for a few years, which I don't see as much different from delivery type services except that we pick it up ourselves, and we're canceling for next year. The CSA we've been with is great and I have nothing bad to say about them (except that a feedback system would be great), it's just that I too got tired of getting a lot of veges I didn't care for, and few of the ones that I love. I'm grateful that I had the chance to expand my vege horizon and now am willing to eat a lot more than I ever was before, but I'm much happier spending about the same amount of money on things that I want. Maybe I just saw one too many fennel bulbs this season! And I prefer New Seasons, which is like a farmers market that is available every day of the week and takes credit cards. I'm not a fan of overly crowded farmers markets whose schedules I have to conform to in addition to trying to remember to hit an ATM before I go.

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