Green Bean Delivery has come into our lives at exactly the right moment.
A few years earlier, and our thrift-vs.-health calibration was so heavily weighted toward saving money there’s no way I would’ve considered spending even a penny extra for organic produce.
Needless to say, our focus has changed since I lost weight. Though our points of emphasis vary widely, everybody in our family is now into healthy eating. That being said, I didn’t expect to be swayed by the offer of a “free trial review bin” because I’m still a bargain shopper at heart, perpetually drawn by those orange “manager’s special” stickers. I figure there are plenty of people out there who demand nothing but the best, whereas I’m willing to take what’s left, grateful for the chance to “use it up” before it’s thrown out.
Imagine my surprise when all six of us, including me, voted to pay to continue the service. We typically get a $35 “small produce bin,” which is about the size of a rectangular laundry basket. It’s full of gorgeous fruits and veggies that arrive right on our door step each week, even though we live out in the country a good 30 minutes from the closest urban center. (Delivery is included in the $35 minimum weekly order.)
As I write this, we’ve just received our fourth Green Bean Delivery. (We canceled last week’s order when we were snowed in.) Here’s what it contained: 1 head of cauliflower, 2 pounds of carrots, 1 celery, 2 yellow onions, 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, 24 ounces of red potatoes, 5 red D’anjou pears, 1 head of garlic, 7 Fuji apples, 1 baby bok choy, and 1 locally grown head of bibb lettuce. (Also a box of artichoke burgers and a Good Greens bar, which I ordered extra.)
So what swayed me?
I made a list of what I like about this service, what I don’t like, and a couple of “neutral” aspects that could go either way – generally a potential negative that ends up being a positive because it influences our behavior in a favorable way. For example, pressure to use up produce before it goes bad. I haven’t always been very good about this, but now I’m trying harder – with better results.
The first list is the longest by far, and the third list outnumbers the second. Could I buy this same list of fruits and vegetables for less at the grocery store? Probably. But then I’d have to burn gas driving to the store. And once there, I wouldn’t buy produce as nice as this. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Outsourcing our fruit and veggie shopping feels like I’m doing my family a favor. This way I can focus my bargain-hunting skills on toilet paper and laundry soap, stuff that doesn’t matter as much.
What I like:
The tasty, stunningly beautiful produce really is better than what we pick up at the grocery store. This is not even debatable. Bob loved shooting pictures of this stuff, and we love eating it.
Over 4 deliveries (the first one was provided free of charge, because I was doing this review), we’ve only had one thing that wasn’t top quality – a single cherry tomato that was going bad.
We’re trying things we might not otherwise. Because I’m not picking out everything we get, and because I don’t want to waste such high quality produce, we’re making sure we use everything up — and making some new discoveries along the way. For example, usually I avoid fresh pears because it’s so hard to figure out when they’re ripe, but lately I’ve been biting into these guys with the kind of gusto usually reserved for apples. Up next: That baby bok choy, which I can safely say has never been consumed in this house before now.
GBD makes me more aware of local and regional products I didn’t know existed. For example, Bison World meats near Noblesville and Local Folks Mustard from Sheridan, which is between Kokomo and Indy. The mustard, which is awesome and based on a 200-year-old German recipe, is produced by Steve and Anita Spencer on a farm that’s been in their family since 1838. (At times, however, the term “local” is a bit of a stretch. I ordered some Good Greens bars, which are supposed to provide 100% of your daily fruits and veggies needs, at least in part because they were listed with the “local” code on the order sheet. It turns out “local,” in this case, is actually five hours away in a Cleveland suburb.)
You can request a free copy of a cool quarterly magazine called Edible Indy that comes right in your bin with your groceries.
Finally, of course, you can’t beat the convenience. I still can’t believe the Green Bean Delivery guy comes right to my door. We can’t even get pizza delivery where we live.
What I don’t like:
Technically you can change the contents of the produce bin, but in practice I find this difficult to do because there are no prices attached to the fruits and veggies in the bin. For instance, in general I’d rather not blow my GBD “allowance” on citrus because I know it’s coming from somewhere far away and it has those thick skins, which makes me think it’s probably better protected from pesticides than other types of commercial produce I buy at the grocery store. On our 3rd order, I deducted 5 large naval oranges, thinking that would free up room, both physically and monetarily, for a 2nd bunch of broccoli, but the computer program denied my request.
If I called customer service I’m sure they could explain how this works so I had a better idea how to make substitutions. But because I was short on time – I’m ALWAYS short on time! — I just gave up. (And then I wound up being glad I did when I saw my husband’s gleeful reaction to those huge yummy oranges.) So now I’m probably just going to take what they give us, and figure whatever it is, it’s almost certainly better than what I would’ve brought home from the grocery store.
(P.S. Actually I did make a couple of substitutions on this most recent order. It was still kind of frustrating and tedious but it worked out in the end.)
The cost. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I were buying this exact same list of foods at the grocery store, I’d buy it for less. But that’s not really a fair comparison, because left to my own devices I wouldn’t fill my cart with this nice of produce. (And I still have trouble buying organic when the cheaper commercial stuff is sitting right there beside it.) I feel good about these fruits and vegetables once they’re in the house, though, and I KNOW my family does. They act like it’s Christmas every time the delivery van comes.
The other thing is, some products are actually cheaper through Green Bean Delivery than ordering direct from the supplier. Those Good Greens bars I mentioned earlier, for instance, were cheaper bought individually through GBD than if bought IN BULK from Goodgreens.com. And Local Folks Mustard was cheaper through GBD than ordering from Local Folks, as well.
The “perishability problem”: When our first bin arrived I had absolutely no room in the fridge, so I really had to scramble to figure out where to put things, and even wound up leaving some stuff in the bin for a while. The problem with this is, if you don’t move them out of the bin before the freezer pac melts, then the brown paper bags most veggies arrive in become soaked, which can obviously do bad things to produce. This happened to some lovely citrus, though I was able to salvage them thanks to their thick skins which (initially) keep exterior mold from infecting the fruit inside.
The good thing about the “perishability problem,” though, is that it really focuses me on processing fruits and veggies, making sure we store them properly, work them into the menu promptly and use them up before they begin to spoil – or the next shipment arrives, whichever comes first.
Now that we’re in the swing of this process, we’re eating better than we were just a few weeks ago. And I’m far less likely to find moldy surprises tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the fridge.
Once again, in case you missed it earlier, the Promo Code 15NINml can knock $15 off your first purchase at greenbeandelivery.com. Offer expires exactly one week from today.