Sunday, April 25, 2010

(Revisited) Review of Field to Families vs. Bountiful Baskets

A couple of months ago I posted a hasty review of two food co-ops operating in my region of the west. That comparison dealt mostly with ease of ordering (one totally dominates over the other) and value (both seemed a pretty good deal on paper, although I had only tried one of them). Since that time, I have ordered multiple baskets from both entities in question and am here to give a more thorough review.

Entity one?
Field to Families.

Entity Two?
Bountiful Baskets.

Rating system: 1 - 5 stars (5 being the best)
Here we go:

Field to Families: 2 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 5 stars

The chances of you getting a Bountiful Basket are much higher simply because they service 6 states: Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Utah alone has over 100 pick-up locations throughout the state!

Field to Families is operating (as of April 2010) in six cities in Utah, none of which are south of Layton. Those cities are: Logan, Ogden, Roy, Clinton, Layton, and Heber City (okay, technically Heber City is south of Layton but it's in the high Uintas and not along the populated Wasatch Front).

Field to Families: 3.5 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 5 stars

Field to Families has a smaller network of growers, and it's clear that they don't reach down into the southern regions of Central America (like Bountiful Baskets). Tropical fruits don't exist in the Field to Families Basket, and they make that clear on their web-site.

Who knew that pineapple grows in Mexico? Bountiful Baskets did. Their policy is 50/50 fruits and veggies, and I have been surprised at the variety. Bananas are a general staple in about every basket (also grown in Mexico), and have been supplemented with other fruits like oranges, strawberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, and...pineapple!

That is not to say that Field to Families has no fruit. Their baskets include "8 food units", of which strawberries have been somewhat constant in my pick-ups (also oranges and lemons).

Field to Families: 4 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 2.5 stars

Anyone living in Utah should seriously consider Field to Families since they are practically in your backyard. Their growers are located in Northern Utah, with a partner farmer located in Southern California. Their network is smaller, but definitely more local!

With pineapples, melons, and bananas adorning Bountiful Baskets, it's clear that their produce made a longer drive to get to my kitchen, much like your local grocery store.

Field to Families: 5 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 4 stars

Both entities charge $15.00 for a conventional produce baskets. Bountiful Baskets also offers Organic Baskets for $25.00. Expect an extra $1.50 handling fee (for each order) from Bountiful Baskets as well as a one-time fee of $3.00 for first-time orders.

Field to Families: 5 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 1 star

With a husband in advertising and as a former small business owner, I was (and am) absolutely floored at the crap web-site run by Bountiful Baskets. That being said, there is hub-bub about a newer updated web-page soon to be (but not yet) revealed. They are popular enough to get away with it, but my marketing sense calls it bad business. Whatever. We love farmers so we'll deal with it. Here's what you can expect when creating an account with each respective organization.

Field to Families: Sign up with email, address, and credit card. Choose whether to pick up every Saturday or some Saturdays (over 10 options are available) and then have a 2-hour window to pick-up your produce on whatever Saturday(s) you signed up for. You are charged once a month.

Bountiful Baskets: Create account with email, address, and credit card. No monthly service options are available. You must order within the allotted 36 hour window for that week's basket. Try to log-in prior to your allotted ordering window since the site will slow considerably when thousands of food lovers crash the site. If you live in Northern Utah, then you can start ordering Mondays at 1 p.m. and have until Tuesday at 9 p.m. to make your "contribution" towards the coming Saturday's pick-up. Don't wait until Tuesday however, because all the baskets will be sold by dinner-time on the first day.

Field to Families: 4 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 5 stars

Even with the extra handling fees, it's clear you are still getting a great deal when you see the abundance of the Bountiful Basket. Take a look for yourself! Here is my first order from Bountiful Baskets. I think I can safely say that I received "12 units of produce"!

In comparison, here is a Field to Families pick-up with their delicious (and still worth it!) "8 units of produce".

Field to Families gives a HUGE VALUE BOOST when you sign up for "Package 3: One pick-up order on all Saturdays of the month ($60.00)". So for the months that have 5 Saturdays in the month, the fifth Saturday is FREE.

In case you're wondering, that month that starts this week (May) has 5 Saturdays! Other bonus months you can look forward to are: July and October (in 2010).

Field to Families: 3.5 points
Bountiful Baskets: 5 points

I'm talking organics here. On their web-site, Field to Families indicates that "We aim to acquire produce from farmers who grow organically (concerning fertilizers and pesticides). Typically, we do not claim the produce is 'certified organic', though sometimes it is".

Okay, so no guarantees on the organics, but doing their best. As I mentioned previously, Bountiful Baskets offers a certified organic basket for $25.00. I even ordered one of those so have a looksie for yourself:

It's looking like "11 units of produce" to me. What do you think?

And here's a re-post of my first Field to Families order way back in March:

with another Field to Families order with the lovely sun mosaic by The Mister of the House:

Field to Families: 4 stars
Bountiful Baskets: 4.5 stars

My strawberries were a bit sweeter from Field to Families, yet all were delicious. The Field to Families carrots seemed to be flimsy within a few days, but still worthy of eating when you cooked them down with some salt and pepper.

Just a couple weeks ago Bountiful Baskets sold flats of strawberries that ended up being soft and better fit for the compost pile. However, they were very cognizant and worked to give people credit that had ordered them (very cool!).

With the tropical offerings from Bountiful Baskets, I have found many of them need to be shelved a few days before they are ready to eat. I had hoped that my directly from grower scenario would mean the produce was picked during its ripened state, but with such a quick trip to my table it's clear that they need a few more days to get to their prime. The reasons this is okay is because you have SO MUCH FOOD that needs to be spaced through the week, that when you get to it later in the week it's divine. Also a bonus is that you know it's not sitting in a warehouse, picked totally green, and ripened with crap like ethelene gas.

FOOD GROUP FIESTA (this mostly means which entity has other offerings to meet all your delicious desires in the other food groups)

So it's a fruit and veggie party right? And that's what we like. However, Bountiful Baskets rocks the house when it comes to offering other sundries. While it differs every week, they offer things like:
5 loaves of bread for $10.00 (white or wheat)
2 lbs of tropical granola for $10.00 (we got was to die for and more like a treat)
6 packages of tortillas, 2 of which were the size of little brother's head on So I Married an Axe Murderer. $10.00
Cranberry bars, produce flats, and herb packs. I recently ordered the Mexican Herb Pack (for $7.50) and got tomatillos, limes, jalapenos, tomatoes, onion, avocadoes, cilantro and green onion. Yum!

With my New Year's Resolution to eat a salad every day this year, I have absolutely loved both Field to Families AND Bountiful Baskets. My salads have been dark and delicious.

So hang on just a sec, let me add up my stars and average them out. Was this an exhaustive review or what? Hang on.


Okay drum roll please. The overall rating given the plethora of categories covered is this:


Close race huh? And that concludes my twelve page essay.

Happy Eating Everyone!


Mr. Olsen said...

What a wonderful post!

I agree with your ratings. I love both of these companies! Either one will give you warm fuzzies and great food.

I am actually torn. That is why we do both every other week.

Thank you to Bountiful Baskets and Field to Families for all that you do!

And thanks Mrs. Olsen for this thorough look.

Angenette said...

Thanks for this. I've been toying with the idea of bountiful baskets, but as you mentioned it doesn't seem to be any more locally produced than just going to the grocery store. I was going to start going to farmer's markets in the summer like we try to do, but sometimes I feel like they aren't very local either.

Holly said...

SWEET! Thanks, Amber! I think I'll be making the switch to Bountiful Baskets. :)

paula said...

I wish they did it in my area. I think I would do the Field To Families because I agree with sounds like a lot of it isn't really coming locally from Bountiful Baskets. I think I might be checking into something like this in my area. Thanks for all the info girl.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Hold your horses people! Bountiful Baskets has a much more regional supply circle than your grocery store. Bananas from Mexico...NOT South America. Pineapples from Mexico...not Hawaii. There is no way you could buy that much produce for that cost in the store.

But you are right they are NOT 100% local. But keep in mind eating 100% local in Utah means nothing fresh from November through April.

Mom's Sewing Vault said...

Thanks for such a thorough and thoughtful comparison! I have been wanting to give FtF a try, but since deciding to start a BB site in Logan, my produce-energy is being spent on BB. ;)

Yes, they do have website issues. Hopefully with the several new sites in our neck of the woods, it should be easier to get a basket when you want to (more supply = less frenetic demand).

That organic BB week you spotlighted, the one where there were only 11 units - that was my first week as a site coordinator. Which means it's been seared into my memory, lol. There was supposed to be Swiss chard, but it did not make it to BB in time to send out. That was the same week as the not-quite-edible strawberries, and probably the most dramatic week in BB history! ;)

They are both terrific services, with slightly different pros and cons, which will appeal to different people. I'm glad for both of them.

Lael said...

I have been looking all over for several weeks for independent information on these guys. THANKS for this post! I actually haven't been able to figure out how to sign up for either (and I'm a pretty smart lady). I hope they improve their website soon.

Angie said...

Nice work Amber!! I hadn't heard of the Field to Families Co-op, but am a bountiful baskets die hard! Glad to hear they won the overall rating. It was fun to look at all your pics and see that we must have picked up on the same weeks! I also ordered the tortillas and the Mexican herb pack and have been very impressed. And I am with you...the granola IS to die for!! I am happy to see my kids grabbing for a banana now instead of the chip bag..which has become non-existent around here thanks to BB!

Ms Fish said... really did your homework! thanks for the 911 on the basket breakdown. I just found out last wk we get bountiful basket delivery here in lil' ol hurricane. after your endorsement, i'm gonna have to try it out!

Lael said...

Hey, I know you, don't I! That is so funny, lady with the killer serve. I think you may also know my sister Trieste ... she saw my comment on here and said something today too. Small world.

Anyway, I found this as I was writing something for the Herald Journal on CSA farms (community supported agriculture). That is a weekly produce basket from a LOCAL farm and a chance to meet and even work with a farmer, for a one-time fee. Look in the Herald Journal this Friday (Arts Section) for more information about how to sign up. It is a really cool idea.

I'm glad to see we have more in common than volleyball!

Jenny said...

Wow, this was so insightful! Thank you for all of the research!

Bountiful baskets website is absolutely ridiculous. This last week as I was trying to order my basket the website kept timing out on me and when I signed back in my preferred location had been filled. It happened twice! But I was able to get my third choice location and I definitely will be excited come Saturday morning when I see that beautiful basket! Even with the hassle, it is still exciting and feels worth it!

Mrs. Olsen said...

Lael. What in the small world? Trieste was in my student ward back in "the day" and I think she is awesome.

I am so excited to read your article about CSA's. I just got a pamphlet about one in Richmond. I may not be with any basket or CSA come summer time because we are trying to grow a big garden...but we'll see how that goes.

Jenny...I'm excited for you to get your first basket. Both of these programs have been a huge blessing for me and my family.

Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

Wow! I wish it was this cheap in California! Here it is like $30 a week, which is still good, but not as great as this!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks.