According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of your best weapons in the fight against cardiovascular disease. The Produce Box is a convenient and cost-effective way to incorporate more local and seasonal produce into your family’s diet.
The Produce Box is a service that delivers fresh boxes of local, seasonal produce right to your door weekly. “We all know that fruits and vegetables are a cornerstone of healthy eating,” says Noel Bullard, who delivers produce boxes in Mint Hill. “Unfortunately, we tend to relegate them to side dishes. But, with the freshness of a Produce Box, they become the star of the meal instead of just an afterthought that you throw on a plate to keep it balanced.”
The Produce Box was started in 2007 by mom Courtney Tellefson, who found herself wondering, “Where is my food coming from? Am I supporting farmers from NC when I buy from the local grocery store or online?” Tellefson wanted to buy local produce but found it difficult to get to her local Farmer’s Market every weekend with two young children. With a few emails and phone calls, Tellefson arranged her own little “produce box” operation delivering boxes of local produce to friends and neighbors.
Over the past ten years, The Produce Box has grown from a one-woman operation to more than 200 moms and dads delivering produce in the Triangle, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Charlotte and the Triad. The Produce Box supports more than 70 farmers and 90 artisan good businesses from all across the state.
“The Produce Box is a no-commitment service that makes supporting and eating local convenient,” says Bullard. “We bring the flavor and freshness of locally grown produce and North Carolina artisan products right to your doorstep, allowing you to be inspired to cook food when it’s at its best.”
Each Friday, The Produce Box emails out a menu to members that lists the week’s box options and add ons. Members log in to their accounts to choose a box and any additional items they want to add. Skipping the week is always an option as well. If you don’t log in and make a selection, you’ll automatically be charged for and receive the default box you selected you signed up. Selections close at 9:00 pm Sunday.
Every week The Produce Box offers several different choices of boxes to suit your needs starting at $24.00. Last week’s “Harvest Box” is a good example of what members can expect to receive in many boxes: green beans, navel oranges, field strawberries, yukon gold potatoes, vine ripe tomatoes, sweet onions and kale.
But the beauty of The Produce Box is that it has something to offer everyone. Last week’s menu featured twelve different boxes for members to choose from. Prefer to buy organic? The “O’Natural Box” is filled with seasonal organic choices. Trying to save money while still eating fresh and local? The “Blemish Box” is an affordable box full of scuffed or bruised produce aimed at helping farmers sell their whole harvest instead of just the “perfect” fruits and veggies. Want to pay it forward? Pay for a $20.00 “Community Box” to be delivered to families in need. The Produce Box also frequently offers creatively themed boxes like last week’s “Super Bowl Box” filled with chicken drummettes, celery, hot sauce, tortilla chips, salsa and blue cheese dressing!
“The question I get asked most is about cost and flexibility,” says Bullard. “Our box choices are designed to meet a family’s size and tastes with the best of what our farmers have available at the time, and start at just $24. I challenge anyone to go to a supermarket or the Farmers Market and walk away with a box filled with fresh local produce for less! Also, because our produce is so fresh, what you get in a box from The Produce Box often lasts much longer, so you are throwing away less produce because it’s gone bad before you can use it.”
One of the unique features of The Produce Box is that it also offers customization and add ons. Every week you have the opportunity to swap out one item in your box for a different one for just 99 cents. Moreover, you can “add on” from an extensive list of fruits and vegetables (including organic and blemished options), meats, seafoods, cheeses, dairy products, bakery items and other NC specialities.
Deliveries are made Wednesday – Friday straight to your door. Mint Hill customers currently receive their produce on Fridays. You don’t have to be home to accept delivery, just leave out a cooler if the weather is especially warm or you are expecting items that need to be kept cool. Boxes come with a weekly newsletter that includes helpful information like where the produce comes from, how to store it, and when to eat it. The newsletter also includes recipes.
Signing up for The Produce Box is easy. When you sign up online, you choose a “default box,” which you can change at any time. There is a $20.00 annual enrollment fee, but no other up front costs; you simply pay weekly as you order. The Produce Box is not a contract; you can cancel your membership at any time. Visit http://www.theproducebox.com/ to sign up. Tell them Noel sent you to receive $5.00 off your first box!