i was talking to a friend today and our conversation reminded me of another conversation- one i had with my sweet sister in law in oregon about buying clubs. she mentioned that i should blog about the buying clubs and co-ops i am a part of. so here goes! if you are moving towards a healthier lifestyle and are looking for ways to make it more affordable- buying clubs are your answer! i currently run a buying club through a company called frontier. frontier is a natural product distributor that health food stores order their stock from. my members and i get natural/organic baking, body and cleaning products for wholesale prices. if we meet our $250 price point (which we always do!) our shipping is free! the prices are considerably better. some items are half of what i'd pay at a health food store. *i am also a part of a chicken co-op out of a small texas town. i order meat around every 6 weeks and pick it up soon after. again, it is natural chicken that is about $2 less/pound than i would pay in the store. i have been a part of other co-ops like ozark, now morningside organics, that you can order any bulk, organic grocery item through.
being a part of co-ops allows me to be wise with our money while not comprimising our health. if you don't have a buying club near you, consider starting one with a group of friends. they are relatively easy to manage. there is some time commitment involved but really minimal- i'm talking about maybe 3 hours a month (depending on your group size).
ordering through co-ops had a bit of a learning curve for me. so here are some things i've learned:
1. don't buy a case of something from the catalogue 'just to try it'. "mmm. sea weed flavored sesame sticks. this i've GOT to try!"
2. try to find friends to split cases with- that way you have a true co-op system going
3. learn how to use what you have and not buy more until you have finished it up
4. you will have to plan your month around various pick-up times
5. research the item before you buy it. more than likely the co-op coordinator is a busy mom who doesn't have time to work out a return for you
6. pay and pick up on time! the coordinator usually has to put all items on a personal credit card.
in my experience, eating and cleaning (my home and myself!) naturally/organically is comletely possible. and while the savings can't always be cut out of the sunday paper, they are there; you just have to ask around until you find what you're looking for.
Edit (Nov. 2010)
*I now buy our chicken and meat from a local farmer.