Eat Local, Eat Healthy, Eat Cheap – with the Ottawa Good Food Box!
Some time ago, I emailed my city councillor my thoughts about allowing hens to be kept on residential properties (totally for, of course!). He and his staff were gracious and gave me a lot of insight into the process of getting city by-laws changed. Fast-forward to today and hens still aren’t allowed in Ottawa, but I did end up on my councillor’s newsletter distribution list. Once a month I get an email about upcoming activities, events, and other notable things in my ward and the rest of the city … and that’s how I found out about the Ottawa Good Food Box program.
The Ottawa Good Food Box is a non-profit initiative that offers healthy food to communities at wholesale prices. Through the Ottawa Good Food Box, you can order a box full of fruits and vegetables once a month. There are different sizes of boxes to buy, and it should really be called the Good Food Great Price Box, because the biggest box for feeding a family costs only $20!
They also offer a medium box for $15, a small box for $10, or a fruit bag for $5. Each month there is a variety of delicious and nutritious fruits and veggies in the box, and the goal of the program is to offer food that is in season and grown as close to home as possible. There is even an organic box offered during growing season.
Once a month customers place their orders on the Ottawa Good Food Box website or directly with the coordinator of the nearest distribution site. Customers choose the box size and price that meet their needs and the boxes are delivered to neighbourhood distribution sites for pickup. There are 30 distribution sites, so chances are there is one near you. (They will also open a new distribution site anywhere there are 10 customers and a site volunteer.) A newsletter with nutrition tips, recipes for cooking any of the less-common veggies in the box that month, and information about the program, is included in every order.
I ordered my first Good Food Box through the website for February, and picked it up last week. Even though the $20 size is described as “good for a whole family”, my husband and I decided that we probably eat this many fruits and veggies already … and if not, we should be! Since it costs an extra $1.50 to order from the website instead of in person, I paid my $20 for March when I went in to pick up my first box. Here’s hoping we eat our veggies and not our words.
This is what was in our $20 Ottawa Good Food Box for February 2013:
10 lb bag of potatoes (potatoes are only provided every second month)
2 lb bag of onions
2 lb bag of carrots
3 enormous beets
1 acorn squash (weighing in at 2.5 lbs!)
1 huge head of romaine lettuce
1 green bell pepper
In the interest of research, I actually weighed everything that was in the box and then compared the prices at my neighbourhood Sobey’s and at the discount grocery store Food Basics. At Sobey’s, February’s $20 Good Food Box would have cost me over $35. At Food Basics, it would have cost me $25 – so I saved $5 there and a few trips to the store since I don’t usually buy that much at once. I also got more local food than I would have at the grocery store because, to be honest, I never remember to consider that while I’m shopping.
$20 a month or less … for a huge box of fruits and veggies … and they buy local so you don’t have to think about it. The Ottawa Good Food Box has been around since 1996, why haven’t I heard about this before!?