This Saturday is the next monthly deadline to order your Iowa grown food from the Iowa Food Coop. Every third Thursdays of each month is food distribution day for the diligent souls that take the time to reserve their orders. We have tried a number of other ways to get locally produced food and the Iowa Food Coop offers the most convenient method. Just order online and drop by the location inside the south entrance to the Merle Hay Mall close to the back wall of the Target store.
Here is a recent WHO TV show on the Iowa Food Coop along with an interview of General Manager Gary Huber: Video
The Iowa Food Cooperative began doing business in Central Iowa about 3 years ago. Currently there are more than 500 members and 68 participating producers. Recently a second distribution site was opened, at the Ponderosa Village in West Des Moines, and this summer during peak growing season there were two distribution cycles each month. The Coop is looking into opening other locations as well.
The novel concept of the cooperative is that it is essentially an online farmer’s market. I am informed that there are only five such cooperatives in the United States. The advantage for buyers is that as long as you get your order in on time you can avoid the crazy rush that typically accompanies a typical Farmers’ Market where all of the really great food is bought up as soon as the place opens. On the first of the month, the shopping cart at iowafood.org “opens”, and members can peruse the list of products, grouped by producers. Members choose what items they want for the month and add them to their shopping cart. This allows producers to save costs and time as they only have to prepare and transport as much food as has been ordered. Several days after the shopping cart “closes,” producers bring their wares to a rented space at Merle Hay Mall or Ponderosa Village in West Des Moines, where they are accepted and sorted by volunteers. Members arrive later in the day to pick up and pay for their orders.
Here are some more photos from a recent purchase: