How do I order food other than what comes in my fresh bin?
Simply, using the shopping cart feature on our grocery page. There you can see our full catalogue including fresh bakery and local dairy, and non-perishable items, most which are kept in stock. These can be simply added on to your fresh bin order with no extra delivery charge. Most items are available by weight, jar, box or whatever unit is suitable, and you may choose to save money on foods you use regularly by purchasing them by the case. If you prefer you can fax or phone us with your add-ons. Extra Fruits and veggies can also be requested by email from the inclusions that can be previewed in This Week’s Fresh Bin, or a standing order can be set up (ie. double fruit, an extra 6 apples, or always include 2 heads lettuce).
What if I can’t be home on my delivery day this week?
Alternate arrangements can be made for occasions when you will be unavailable to receive your scheduled delivery. The most workable solution is for you to arrange a spot with us, or for a neighbour to take the box, and to leave the empty bin with payment inside if appropriate. We appreciate 24 hours notice of these situations and the address of your neighbour if applicable. Orders may also be picked up from our warehouse at 1338 Clifton Street (west of Erin Street) between 8:30 to 4:30 weekdays.
Once I sign up, am I under any obligation?
No. You can cancel your FOOD participation at any time you choose. You can also skip a week or more, but please give us at least 3 days notice if you want to cancel or skip an order. The one-time $5 charge paid when you sign up is not refundable when you quit.
How can you provide local food year-round in Manitoba?
Manitoba grows an amazing variety of wonderful garden and crop foods, but it’s true we are limited by a relatively short growing season. Whenever there is the option, our policy at Fresh Option Organic Delivery is to purchase locally-produced versus shipping food in from further distances. In the spring/summer/fall growing season we have many growers who are providing for us, and in summer are able to supply the fresh box vegetables almost exclusively from local farms. Even some of our summer fruit is Manitoba grown. Stuff like avocados and bananas will still be included but we give local produce first choice.
In the winter we try to extend the seasonality of local foods by storing harvested vegetables that will keep in our warehouse facility or at the farms when possible. We also offer many prairie-grown grains, flour, beans, lentils, honey, maple syrup, wild rice, bakery goods, locally roasted coffees and whatever is being grown in Manitoba organically. We are always actively sourcing more local organic products so that we can offer you a broadening range of local diversity and encourage organic-minded farmers and producers near home by helping grow their market. Your awareness of the benefits of localizing our food systems and supporting small scale organic agriculture in our community is appreciated.
Is organic certification important?
There is no short answer. This is a tricky question with many shades of grey, and many opinions and perspectives. Third party certification of a farm’s practices serves to both assist producers and allow them to access premium commodity prices, and to give the consumer peace of mind that organic guidelines are being adhered to. Inspectors visit the farm, detailed production practices and surveys must be submitted and adhered to, fees must be paid, equipment & storage designated, and a 3 year “transitional” period must be served in order for a piece of land to be certified organic. It is time consuming and costly to the grower to comply to these regulations and some feel it deters them from going organic, or for some who already do farm organically from becoming certified. In an ideal world we would all get the foods we can’t grow ourselves from our neighbours who we know and trust.
Our mainstream food distribution couldn’t be more distant from that ideal. The further we get from the source of our food, the less we know about how it is grown. This is where certification becomes important. It reassures us that people who are experienced with and knowledgeable about sustainable agriculture are regulating farm practices, and disallowing harmful chemical pesticides/herbicides and fungicides as well as genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).
Our stance at F.O.O.D. is to support local farmers who are growing food in a way that nurtures the soil, our health and the planet for future generations is the main goal. If that means buying from a farm nearby that is transitional instead of a huge certified organic one in California, we likely choose to support the family nearer to us. Those choices need to be, and are, made on an individual basis with many factors we consider for each item every week. We make every effort to be transparent in our choices by informing the consumer on the This Week’s Fresh Bin page, the newsletter, and their receipts where possible. We want you to feel confident about where your food comes from, and so we welcome your questions.
Can I get lower prices by ordering a case of my favourite product (pasta sauce, juice, rice)?
You sure can. Prices for full cases and bulk bags of a wide variety of non-produce items can be viewed from our Grocery page. If you don’t see what you are looking for, just ask, we will be glad to order a case in for you or hunt it down if need be. Selling bulk is another way we can minimize packaging.
Can I get a standing order for extra fruit?
Yes. Some folks like more fruit than the average bear, we have discovered. We provide for this request in a couple of ways and you can choose the most suitable for your household. You can request a standing order of “double fruit” and will get twice as much of every fruit that week. Or you may ask for extra “lunchbag fruit” and you will get extra grab-for-it fruit like apples, pears, bananas, oranges etc, but not extra stuff like melons, lemons, mango or strawberries. It doesnt even need to be a standing order, you can add-on individual items one week from what looks available in the upcoming posted box contents. We try to accommodate clients by tweaking their order so they get the kind of produce they like to use and would pick for themselves. Just let us know and we’ll work something out that makes you smile.
How do you handle drop offs in extreme weather?
Somebody should be home to receive the box within the designated time range they have chosen, or have made arrangements with FOOD to have it delivered to a neighbour. Pick up at 1338 Clifton Street is also an option if you will be out during your delivery period.
If you have missed your delivery, your fresh box will be returned to our warehouse. Please contact the office to let us know if you would like to schedule a re-delivery ($5.00 redelivery fee) or pick up directly from our warehouse. If either of those option will not work for you we can donate your fresh box to a local charity on your behalf (the amount due will remain on your account). Any unclaimed fresh boxes will be donated Friday afternoon unless we are notified otherwise with instructions to hold for pick up or redelivery.
How do Fresh Option’s prices compare to retail organic? How about conventional supermarket?
Our prices in general average competitively to retail stores. Fresh Option includes the delivery fee in our prices, so if you are comparing you need to add any handling, packing, delivery or other hidden fees from other organizations on to their posted prices to get the true picture. These can add up to as much as 30%. Fresh Option has no additional hidden charges, the price you see is what you pay at the door (other than government sales taxes which very few of our products have). The service of having your groceries shopped, packed and delivered to your door is a premium service, so if you find at times our prices are higher than if you were to shop elsewhere for them yourself, please consider the convenience of “to-your-door” service and managing your account from your computer are just some of the ways we go above and beyond.
Supermarket chains have huge purchasing power and can strategically offer “artificially” low prices on conventional and even surprising low prices on select organic produce in part by buying large quantities and distributing them nationally, or by using them as what the industry calls “loss leaders”. It’s important to understand that local food does not always (nor should it) cost less, but makes up in so many other ways.
Where’s the beef?
Fresh Option is a vegetarian business, so our offerings consist of a wide range of plant-based foods as well as local organic dairy, honey etc. We do appreciate that those who choose to include meat in their diets are wise to look to organic sources, and many farms will sell direct, as well as there being other retail sources in Manitoba for naturally-raised meats.