I live in a pretty rural area and my organic fruit and vegetable selection is limited to a very small portion at my local grocery store. Recently my friend and fellow doula presented me with an opportunity to join an organic c-oop in Birmingham called Manna Market, and I jumped at the chance! Not only are they providing local organic fruits and veggies, but their ordering and payment options are very flexible. Most co-ops or CSA's require you to pay up front for an entire season, which works out to be a big chunk of change all at one time. A big chunk of change that not everyone has lying around - myself included. I usually grocery shop for my family 2 weeks at a time, and Manna Market delivers orders every 2 weeks. Perfect for my family! You have the option to order every 2 weeks, or you can only order when you need/want to. They also have different size orders depending again on what you're able to spend and/or your family size.
This being our first experience I ordered the smallest bag, but was still thrilled with our loot! Like buying from a farm, the exact fruits and veggies vary and in this bag we got apples, oranges, kiwi, bananas, beets, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, romaine, spring mix greens, okra, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Quite the haul, no? I picked up my order from a local herb shop and after setting the bag in the car, before I was even able to get back in the car from saying "thank you" to the mama who delivered the order, the kids were raiding our booty. The little pirates. Arrrrrrr! They went straight for the apples and bananas, but I was able to save them before they fell to an early demise.
We came home, I layed everything out, and took the above picture. My little man wanted to model several fruits for you guys. He's such a giver. We've had our fruits and veggies for 5 days now, and in order to make it last I had to stash our fruits in the microwave. (which doesn't work.... well, as a microwave. It's a broken built in, so it is working as a hiding spot for me!) Our veggies are waiting patiently in the crisper drawers. We've used several things now and the taste is so superior to what I buy at the grocery store (even organic) that I am thoroughly shocked! Take the apple for example. I buy apples frequently, all different varieties, and use them in a number of different ways. I feel like I had never eaten a real apple before I tried the one from Manna Market!!! It was SO crisp, had a great firm bite to it, with a minute graininess. The flavor was out of this world! So sweet and fresh, I can hardly describe it. It made me want to bake, and melt some cinnamon laced scentsy, and go rake leaves all at the same time. They just screamed FALL IS HERE!
I have plans to make gumbo with the okra, the green beans will be sliced and added to a chicken pot pie (made with whole fresh organic farm raised chicken I buy from Goose Pond Farms), the sweet potato will be baked into yummy chips, and the tomatoes and green peppers are going into pasta. The only things I don't have plans for are the beets and the eggplant - neither of which I've cooked before. It's just one eggplant, so I feel like I need to use it in something to make it stretch, but I have no clue what. If you have any recipes or ideas for me please comment below and let me know! I encourage everyone to look for a local CSA or co-op, there are budget conscious organic buying alternatives out there, if you're willing to spend a little time looking and make a couple of phone calls. I can now say 100%, it is SO worth it!