Jump on the veggie express!

I used to hate schlepping around the city for groceries. But now I have a bounty of beautiful, organic produce brought right to my door.

Published October 4, 2005 4:13PM (EDT)

I hate to drive. My boyfriend does, too. But he loves to cook, so for years we schlepped to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and farmers markets to get locally grown, seasonal, organic produce. Then, two years ago, I heard about Planet Organics, a San Francisco-based service that delivers fresh, organic produce to your door. Now we're never out of veggies and we spend much less time in endless checkout lines.

Home delivery has made cooking with organic vegetables fun and convenient. We can leave it up to the produce pickers at Planet Organics to choose what we will eat each week -- they've surprised us with delicious beets, plums and green beans, all things we never would have ordered on our own -- or we can handpick our own bounty. The Web site allows us to preemptively refuse things we hate, so we're never stuck with persimmons or green peppers. And we can customize our deliveries to include all-natural meats, prepared meals and even some sundries like shampoo and deodorant. But the best part? Planet Organics is bonded to handle house keys, so it can deliver to our house even when we're not there!

Sad because you don't live in the Bay Area but you want fresh groceries delivered to your door? Don't fret. In New York City, try FreshDirect. Most urban areas in the United States have some grocery delivery services, most often in association with a CSA (community-supported agriculture) co-op farms. (CSA prices vary from about $20 to $50 per week or approximately $300 for a "season" of groceries.)

When choosing a service, you may have to be flexible about price, selection and degree of environmental friendliness. Planet Organics groceries do cost substantially more than megamart veggies, but in exchange you save some money on gas. And if you don't have a car, just knowing you won't have to wrangle groceries home on the bus is nearly priceless. Another thing to remember: CSAs are local and almost always seasonal, so you might get stuck with whatever crops your farmer chooses to plant.

As for the health benefits, well, the more produce you buy, the more you'll feel compelled to eat it, so you can always count on getting your five daily servings. Of course, that can backfire. I have spent many a week staring a browning bunch of bananas in the face -- well, stem -- wishing the Planet Organics produce mavens had sent us underripe fruit instead of fruit at its peak. But veggie guilt aside, regular home deliveries of produce have been a convenient way to slip into a good habit. And you'll save gas. Well, gasoline, anyway.

By Sumana Harihareswara

Sumana Harihareswara lives in San Francisco and maintains Cogito, Ergo Sumana.

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