After a bad experience with a CSA almost two years ago, Jonathan and I were a little reluctant to jump back in with another company. That is, we were reluctant until we discovered Out of the Box Collective! It's not a CSA, strictly speaking, but it does deliver a big box of local organic-or-better produce, along with a ton of other stuff to homes in these zip codes in SoCal.
It was the non-produce items that really sold us on Out of the Box. (You can read about everything that goes into the various-sized boxes on their website, so I won't bog you down with that here.) Along with all of the food comes a meal plan with recipes for five dinners featuring ingredients that come in the box! With Jonathan on hiatus at last, we knew we'd have a lot more time to spend cooking together, so we signed up to receive our first delivery on his first day off!
We were very curious about the quantities of food we would receive because the website isn't terribly specific (How could it be?), but we were very pleasantly surprised! This is what came in the Couples' Vegetarian Box this past week:
2 navel oranges
8 Satsuma mandarins
1 yellow onion
1 head of garlic
3 Yukon potatoes
10 white turnips
1 green kabocha squash
1 bag sugar snap peas
1 bunch gold chard
2 bunches little gems lettuce
1 bunch watercress
1 bunch cilantro
1 bag chickpeas (Pulse/Mix/Grain/Pie Shell Category)
1 dozen eggs (alternates weekly with 1/2 pound butter in Couples' Box)
8 oz Organic Valley raw cheddar (California Cheese Category)
1 jar Bona Dea marinara sauce (Local Specialty Category)
1 quart orange juice
1 x 1/2 pound Avila and Sons lemon pistachios (Nut/Seed/Dried Fruit Category)
1 pound Alter Eco red quinoa (Fair Trade Item)
1 x 12 oz bottle Sweet Om Mama salad dressing in Farm Stand Flavor (intro gift)
We were very impressed by the quantity of food! Between leftovers from the dinners and items from the box that were unused in the recipes, we had to buy only a few items at the grocery store to cover us for all three meals for seven days.
The quality of every single piece of produce was fantastic. We both really appreciated the attention to detail that went into this. One of the biggest problems we had with our old CSA was that we kept getting old, diseased, or squashed produce in our box. The CSA would replace the problem items the next week if we complained, but then we'd just get another box with more squished, old, diseased produce.
We've had a chance to try all of the non-produce items in the box and loved all of them. We were happy to see that Om Sweet Mama dressings are currently available in Out of the Box's online store (where customers can purchase a huge variety of add-ons to their boxes). We were also excited to learn that Avila and Sons sets up shop at several LA-based farmers' markets, so we can load up on more of those insanely good lemon pistachios very soon.
All told, I have not a single bad thing to say about this experience. It's just great. I feel lucky to have found it. I just wish the same kind of business would pop up in other parts of the country for more people to enjoy.