Written by Susan Linville
A pepper is a pepper is a pepper. But at $1.00 a piece or more, is there a less expensive way to buy produce?
Some people have convenient coop stores, but those who don't shouldn't be discouraged. Several Patch readers have found clever ways to stretch their grocery dollars.
"In addition to 'store-front' coops, people can get together less formally in buying clubs to pool discounted orders” to several food suppliers, said Sallie Satterthwaite, a Concord, MA Patch reader.
Buying clubs are groups who combine their buying power and labor to buy in bulk from wholesale distributors. Members share the work and expenses to purchase and distribute the food.
The Coop Directory Service recommends starting with seven to 10 households. It helps to have someone with organizational experience.
"One can form your own coop very simply," said Kalman Berke, a Milford, MA Patch reader. "You will need a small group of folks who will work at a location like a church or other not-for-profit place to distribute."
"A buying club based in Concord and Acton from the early 1980s until this year used to buy bread, natural meats, chicken and duck eggs, honey, and special granolas from members and local farmers and local businesses,” Satterthwaite said.
Creating an informal food-buying group is pretty straightforward. First, hold an initial meeting. This gives you an opportunity to emphasize the cooperative nature of a buying club where members share the work fairly. You can discuss details such as membership requirements, distributors, local wholesalers, delivery sites and what supplies and equipment you'll need.
"You make a list of stuff available,” Berke said. “[Buy from] a local butcher if you want meat (harder to find with big boxes taking over), and a bakery or two. All of this is done at wholesale."
TELL US: Are you part of a food-buying club? How do you save money on groceries?
About this series: As part of our Smart Spending reporting, Patch is profiling people across the country who have found creative ways to save money. If you're a smart spender, we want to hear from you! Share your story here or in the comments section below.