I'd like to start by thanking my reader Debbie for injecting a bit of sanity into my thinking. For weeks, I'd been living with a low-grade stress brought on by my dissatisfaction with the Urban Organic produce delivery company. We were certainly enjoying the high-quality fruits and veggies they brought to our door every Wednesday, but the high level of error in their procedures was creating a lot of follow-up headache for me.
In my consternation, I guess I'd lost sight of the main reason we'd joined Urban Organic in the first place: to ease the post-harvest dejection we typically feel after the last weekly CSA delivery of the growing season, which happens just before Thanksgiving every year. Well, this goal was achieved — we definitely were distracted from our melancholy by the fun of opening our weekly boxes from UO. But over time, the frustration out-weighed the fun. Time to move on! Thanks, Debbie, for reminding me that, with Whole Foods only a block away, we have no need to rely on an error-prone delivery system for our organic produce.
But I wanted to be sure before opting out of UO that I could indeed get a superior consumer experience from WF. So I set up an experiment — kitchen scientist at heart! — to give me a means of analyzing the two produce sources. My challenge would be to see if I could create a box of organic produce at Whole Foods that would rival in quality, variety, convenience, and price the weekly boxes we received from Urban Organic. Read on to find out how I fared. . . .
First, I set my budget. We'd been receiving a weekly "Original Value Box" from Urban Organic, which is described on their website as "Incomparable value, 15-18 items, 1-3 pieces of each item. Ideal for couples or small families." (Of course, they are showing only 14 items on this week's list — typical!) Such a box goes for $34.99, plus a delivery fee of $1.99, for a total of $36.98. This would be my target amount.
How would I decide what to put into my box? Well, obviously, everything would have to be organic. I would choose 15 items, to equal the minimum number of items UO claimed to put in their boxes. I would choose from among both fruits and vegetables, and I would toss into my cart an item or two that is not habitual for me. One thing I like about having my assortment chosen by someone else is that it often forces me to stretch my comfort zone a little.
I bought the following 14 items and brought them home and put them into a cardboard box, just to be consistent:
- red cabbage
- navel oranges
- grape tomatoes
- daikon radish
- golden delicious apples
- red grapefruit
- bosc pears
- baby zucchini
- green pepper
- mustard greens
|Delivered by Michael|
My bill came to $34.79, so I could probably have added an additional item and still come in under budget. This total is perhaps even a bit elevated because I did not choose the cheapest items which normally come from Urban Organic — bananas, carrots, potatoes — because we have a surfeit of these items on hand. (In the spirit of fairness, I had tried to shop "price-blind" at Whole Foods, but a couple of things I might have liked to have were ridiculously expensive: a half-pint of blueberries for $4.99? Red bell pepper at $5.99 a pound? Couldn't bring myself to spend for those. Then again, I never saw such luxury items in the UO boxes, either.)
How did I do in my challenge? I think I created at a similar price a box containing produce of comparable quality and variety. The convenience is a little harder to measure, as are some of the less tangible aspects of the experience. I actually had to leave my apartment to fetch the produce from WF, but I would have had to go there anyway for other items. I had to spend the time to select the items myself, but for me that falls into the category of fun, especially as I had made it a goal to select some items that don't usually make it into my cart (red cabbage, daikon radish, yellow apples). My inner control freak was delighted to be able to oversee every aspect of this transaction (I gotta admit), ending at the check-out counter, where my daikon was initially rung up at twice the price as a parsnip.
You can't relax for a moment, when someone else's capacity for error is involved! (I know, I need to let go a bit.) But at WF, at least I have to be vigilant only for the time it takes to check out. I was finding the process of overseeing UO to be a full-time job.
Final score: Whole Foods 1, Urban Organic 0. I just went online to cancel my account with UO and was unable to find an option for this on their website (typical!), so I wrote them an email. We shall see if my departure from the organization is processed any more smoothly than my entry into it. (When I first spoke to a representative on the phone, I was thanked for referring my friend Phyllis, who was supposed to have gotten a free box for referring ME. I should've been on my guard starting then!)
Need to combat the winter blues (or the summer blahs for my readers Down Under)? Put 15 kinds of fresh organic produce in a big box and give it to yourself! I'm feeling better already. . . .