Trying out SPUD

On October 30, 2013, LivingSocial offered a deal for SPUD. I have heard mixed reviews about organic grocery delivery and community supported agriculture (CSA), but we were still interested in trying it for ourselves. So, I purchased the $20 deal and sent it out to some friends to see if they were interested, too.

spud box logo We really love the idea of eating local and seasonal food, but we are also frugal. We like paying $1/lb (or less) for produce. We’ve also got two young kids, so bananas will be a staple in our home for the foreseeable future.

Last week I decided to “cash-in” my coupon and order the Seasonal Produce Box from SPUD. The original cost of the produce was $40. The receipt that came with the box showed the distance traveled to reach the SPUD warehouse for each item, the average distance these products traveled (stated as 887 km, but I couldn’t figure out how they got this …), and the average distance to a typical Canadian grocery store (2,500 km). Being curious about this, I decided to check at Kin’s Farm Market (where we do most of our produce shopping and where they strive to buy local) for the same products. Kin’s labels the country/state/province where their products come from, so the distances are approximate. Here’s the comparison:

Item SPUD Kin’s
2 pink lady apples 349 km 500 km (Washington)
1 bunch broccolette 1,646 km not available
1 bag of carrots and beets 1,000 km 2,000 km and 100 km (California and BC, respectively)
1 head of cauliflower 2,420 km 2,000 km (California)
1 bunch of chard 1,000 km 2,000 km (California)
2 field cucumbers 1,000 km 5,000 km (Mexico)
1 bunch of kale 500 km 500 km (same brand)
1 head of romaine 2,056 km 2,000 km (California)
0.5 lb of white mushrooms 38 km 100 km (BC)
2 Bartlett pears 500 km 500 km (Washington)
1 bunch of spinach 1,917 km 2,000 km (California)
Average distance 1,100 km 1,500 km

The total cost for the same items from Kin’s would have been about $18 and the average distance traveled was 1,500 km. It is important to note that some of the items at Kin’s aren’t organic, but that the kale was and even the same brand as that delivered by SPUD.

One complaint I have often heard about SPUD and CSAs is that people end up getting produce they don’t know how to use. Since I love to cook and am always looking to try new recipes, I was up for that challenge. Unfortunately, we didn’t get anything that I hadn’t cooked with before. However, if you are scared by the mere mention of “kale” or “swiss chard” (or the very thought of cooking on your own!), here’s how we used our produce:

  • Rice paper wraps – 1/4 of the bunch of spinach, 2 carrots (they were small), 0.25lb mushrooms, 1 cucumber (we julienne the veggies and added a green pepper, tofu, rice vermicelli noodles, peanuts, and peanut satay sauce)
  • Cauliflower cheddar soup with bean and grain salad
  • Spanako-pizza (spinach)
  • Carrots with homemade hummus
  • Steamed broccolette (even our baby had some!)
  • Vegetarian lasagne – mushrooms, swiss chard (noodles, pasta sauce with other vegetables, and bechamel sauce)
  • Southwest chicken salad – romaine lettuce (chicken, tortilla chips, corn, salsa, cheese, avocado)
  • Kale and avocado salad – 3 avocados and the remaining bunch of kale with lemon juice
  • Orange walnut chard salad
  • Roasted beets plus some other additions (garlic, celery, onions, yams and carrots)
  • Apples, pears and remaining cucumber were happily devoured as healthy snacks!

So, organic aside, on average, the SPUD food traveled about 3/4 the distance as Kin’s, but was twice as expensive (at regular price, not counting our discount). For us, being frugal wins, but that isn’t to say we won’t try SPUD again … they did conveniently include another coupon in the box and further discounts if we get friends to try it. With two little kids, grocery runs can be a bit chaotic solo. Having the groceries delivered was pleasant, one less to-do for this mama, so she could play Thomas the Tank Engine that much longer 🙂

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