The Road BEYOND Warrior Dash: Homegrown Co-op

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Primal Cooking, Reviews, Shopping

I’ve got so much to say today and so little time to type all of it. A few weeks ago I was made aware of a way to get locally grown, organic produce in Orlando. My friend, Jenny, told me about Homegrown Co-op. In Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Cookbook he talks about where to get food and one of the things he mentions is finding a local co-op for produce. Well, thanks to Jenny, I found one.

You can click this to be transported to their site.

When you go to the website for Homegrown Co-op, you’ll find a lot of information so I’m going to only cover the basics here and tell you of my experiences thus far. On the website, they define a co-op as:

an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

This is a way for you and me to receive locally-grown, unprocessed foods from a network of local farmers that are based within 50 miles of downtown Orlando. The website says that the producers of the Homegrown Co-op range from very small to mid-sized farms. Some are certified organic through the USDA; some are Certified Naturally Grown; and others are non-certified practicing organic. We develop close relationships with our farmers, and visit their operations often to ensure the highest quality of your foods. They say it’s a little more expensive but I have yet to notice the difference if I were to go through the produce section at Publix or Whole Foods and compare costs. After two weeks, I really feel like it’s close in comparison. Also, think of what you’ll save in medical bills later by putting these good quality foods into your body instead of produce that is genetically produced, coated in wax and God knows what else…

The thing I like most about Homegrown Co-op is that they offer an item called “Season’s Pick Box”. It’s available in small, medium or large and it comes full of vegetables that are currently in season. It’s a random mix and you can’t substitute items. Let me tell you something about this item. I am not a fan of vegetables. Having switched to primal eating, it has been a challenge for me to come up with stuff I like. Since I started getting stuff from Homegrown, I have become an Iron Chef of sorts. I get home with my box and I find that there’s stuff in here I have never eaten. Things like Swiss Chard, Yellow Squash, Broccolini, Beets (YES, I ate beets) and more. My stomach says “uh-oh” but my brain says “you just spent $35 on produce. It better NOT go bad and you better FIND a way to cook it to your liking before it spoils. Your body needs this! Do it!” So I’ve had to jump on Google and start searching for things like “what to do with beets” and I have found several options.

Here’s a little breakdown of my experience with the co-op.

The first thing you need to know is that you cannot place an order in the online market unless it is between 5:00 p.m. on Sunday and 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday of each week. That is the only time that the shopping cart icons will appear for you to add your selections. The website is easy to navigate and you can choose categories from the left side that will display relative items to the right.

Week One

I decided to start with a small Season’s Pick Box. I got yellow squash, tomatoes, swiss chard, green pepper, onion and a head of Bibb Lettuce. I honestly can’t remember all of it. What I did feel is that for one person, there wasn’t enough. I will tell you it was all great. The freshness and flavor stood out nicely above what I’m used to. The co-op offers delivery for a fee depending on your zip code. For me it was $9 but I wasn’t going to be available to pick it up myself. I left a cooler outside and they promised to deliver between 2:00 and 9:00 p.m. It arrived around 7:00 p.m.

Week Two

This is what I really want to talk about. This week, I decided to drive down to the co-op to pick up my box. It’s a small building just north of downtown Orlando. You have to pick up your orders on Thursday between 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. I went at 2:30 and the parking lot was slammed. I had to block a car in just to be able to park. Luckily for me, they filled my order before his and I got out without anyone making a scene.

Inside the building, they have tables and glass coolers with a surplus of things you can buy on the spot. Eggs, breads, spices, meats and various other things. I decided to stick with my order and gave my name at the counter. The person went out of the building to another building out back and came back with a bin full of seasonal produce. NOTE: Bring your own bags or boxes to take your items home. I missed this detail and they gave me some but they didn’t have much. Next time I’ll know.

Words can’t describe it so here’s a picture:

This is a medium Season’s Pick Box. This week I got (starting at 6:00 and going clockwise-ish) 1 Onion, 2 Green Peppers, 2 Poblano peppers, 4 tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, 1 eggplant, 2 yellow squash, 1 head of bibb lettuce, 1 pound of green beans, a bunch of broccolini, beets and swiss chard. The eggs belong to my brother-in-law and sister and can be purchased separately from the co-op. Holy Cow!!! I didn’t know where to begin. I knew that there was a recipe for Swiss Chard Frittata in the Primal Blueprint Cookbook so I knew where that would go. Two days ago, a friend told me about Ratatouille. I’ve never made or eaten it so I was anxious to try it. Do you know that everything I need for Ratatouille is in this box. Ok, sure I’ll be substituting the squash for zucchini that the recipe calls for but squash is squash and it’s going to be mushy and slimy once heated so I don’t see the difference. Cucumbers. I do not like cucumbers by themselves. I went back to my middle eastern cuisine days and made tzatziki using some of the greek yogurt I had in the house. I also cut some up and made cucumber water and that’s very refreshing. The real challenge were the beets. I didn’t think I liked them and was pretty scared that they were in there. I started looking frantically for something to do. I found a recipe for a beet soup with feta over at SeriousEats.com. After finishing, a quick taste revealed an earthy/sweet taste I might enjoy now and again. I went ahead and froze it into three seven-ounce portions for later days.

I also never cooked Broccolini. I didn’t even know what it was. Google took me to FoodMayhem.com where I found this article about Broccolini. I really like Food Mayhem. I added them to my RSS reader so I can keep up with their blog for new food ideas.

Week two gave me much more to work with. I love that it helps me be creative again in the kitchen. I love that I’m eating things that are grown by local farmers that are monitored by the co-op for quality. This really adds a new level to the changes I’m making with my food selections. I hope you’ll find this blog encouraging and if you live in the area, that you’ll check out Homegrown Co-op for your produce, dairy, meat or miscellaneous needs.

A Quick Update

My cracked/bruised/broken rib is not fully healed but I’m pleased to report minimal pain. I’m sleeping on my back again and I’ve been biking and walking regularly. I’m going to wait to the end of a full eight weeks before trying any weightlifting again. I biked 18 miles today, 14 yesterday and there’s a chance I’ll be doing 14 tomorrow.

One more thing. I got on the scale and lost four more pounds. I’m at 321 now and all the excess weight I gained after injury from swelling and fluid retention is gone. I smiled.

If you haven’t done it yet, go to the The Road Beyond Warrior Dash Fan Page on Facebook and click the LIKE button at the top. Stop in regularly for food ideas and just to see how I’m doing.

  • If you’re one of the people that motivates me and tells me I’ve inspired you, please tell someone about my journey and how to find the blog.
  • If you’ve got a friend, co-worker, family member…ANYONE that doesn’t believe there’s still time for them to turn their life around and be healthy, please tell them about my journey and how to find the blog.

I’m doing it. If I can do it, I believe others can too. Thanks for reading and for supporting me.

Have a great Easter weekend. Talk to you later!

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Comments
  1. Great post!! I totally forgot to tell you about bringing your own bags, doh! I had to bring home my first order in a clean garbage bag they found, lol.

    If you get beets again next week I highly recommend beet chips!
    Slice thinly (mandoline helps), toss with olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until crisp. Yummy!!! Oh yeah, and peel first. Kinda hard with these smaller beets…

  2. Pasquale says:

    Those were smaller?

  3. Melissa says:

    You ARE inspiring. I’m avoiding the peanut butter M&Ms that are calling my name tonight because of you. đŸ™‚ And I posted about it on Facebook (you know that).

  4. Geoff says:

    Bake beets, or grill them. The sweet carmelizes, nicely!

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