Sunday, September 20, 2015

Review: Farm Fresh To You - Organic Fruits & Veggies Delivered To Your Doorstep


Many thanks to Mom It Forward for sponsoring and providing compensation for this post. All produce was provided by Farm Fresh To You and Mom It Forward; however, the opinions are entirely my own and do not reflect the views or opinions of either company. 

A couple weeks ago, I was approached about an opportunity to try Farm Fresh To You, a well-known CSA service here in California. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to apply - I mean, an organic fresh fruit and veggie delivery service isn't exactly something I would ignore. I was thrilled when I learned I would be part of this special project, and just as excited to tell you what I thought. I'm also pretty giddy about a special discount I get to share with all of you later in this post, but first things first!

I've known about Farm Fresh To You for some time, since it is based here in Northern California and popular among Sacramentans. We love our fresh, local produce here in the Farm to Fork Capital, so farmers markets, community gardens, urban food stands, and quality CSA services abound. Family owned and operated, Farm Fresh To You (FFTY) is one of those CSA services, but it brings all that fresh, seasonal produce directly to your home or office. Traditional CSA services have specific pick up locations, which can make it difficult for those who have tight schedules or who lack transportation. Having your box delivered directly to your home or office is convenient and makes this sort of service accessible to everyone. All FFTY produce is organic and local to California, ensuring the best quality and selection. To learn more about FFTY's roots and their amazing farms, check out their story here. I have to admit reading what FFTY is all about - both as a company and as part of a movement - made me puff up with California pride. We grow some of the best food on the planet here in the Golden State!

Now, what I didn't know was how flexible and affordable Farm Fresh To You could be. I tend to stay away from subscription services like CSA boxes because my finances are so precarious. The services I'd heard about in the past were too expensive for me, and the level of commitment was daunting. So, I just assumed FFTY would be equally inaccessible to me. It was a pleasant surprise to learn how easy it is to work with FFTY. There is no obligation, you can either cancel or suspend your orders as needed, and there are many pricing options available so that even us single folk can reap the benefits of a CSA service.

The most appealing thing to me, however, is the delivery aspect. Because of my illness, my weekly farmers market jaunts have slowed to a mere trickle - not because I don't want to go, but because sometimes, I'm not well enough to get there. The thing is, I need as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible so I can keep my immune system strong. With the crazy high prices and "meh" quality of conventional grocery store produce, it's been a challenge to keep up my fruit and veggie supply. Having those delivered directly to me would be extremely helpful, so once I'm in a better financial position, I'm going to treat myself to one of these boxes at least once a month.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's check out how the process works, get hungry over a recipe, and go from there.

The Experience

Ordering was simple. The FFTY website is user-friendly, with clear links and information to get you where you want to go. You're given the option to look at sample boxes and pricing right from the home page, which is refreshing in an age when merchant sites require you to sign up for their service before showing you that kind of information.

They offer a variety of options for your box: Mixed Fruit & VeggieTraditional CSAFruit OnlyNo CookingVeggie Only, and Office Snack Packs. Once you've chosen your preferred box and size, you're taken to a sign up page to enter your information and select your delivery frequency. There is plenty of flexibility on frequency: weekly, every other week, even monthly deliveries are available. Once your payment information is entered and you've officially placed your first order, your sign up is complete and you're taken to the "My Farm Stand" page, which is basically your personalized homepage for the site. From here you can customize your first box, check out recipes, read articles, and more.
Being naturally indecisive, it took forever to decide between the Mixed Fruit & Veggie and Traditional CSA boxes. They both have their appeal, but I tend to buy more veggies than fruits when left to my own devices, so I opted for the Mixed Fruit & Veggie box to get more of a balance going in my fridge and belly. From there, I spent a few moments gazing lovingly at the selection I'd be receiving in my first box: fresh cantaloupe, cipollini onions, kale, chard, lettuce, grapes... and all of this would be delivered directly to me? What a glorious time to be alive!

To get the most complete experience using FFTY, I decided to customize my box by replacing a couple different items with things I know I'll use. It's another simple process, with a list of available options and prices to choose from. After that, you're even given the option to add other fun items, like eggs, honey, etc. While I didn't order any extras for myself, this is a wonderful option for those who like to cook and want to get some of the best local products out there.


Then came the big dilemma for me: something came up that would prevent me from being around to receive my delivery, so there was a mad scramble to figure out how to get both my box of goodies and me in the same place at the same time.

You see, Farm Fresh To You makes their deliveries between 8 p.m. the night before your delivery date and 8 a.m. the day of. This is to ensure the delicate produce stays as fresh as possible, (it's also very polite). Because my apartment building is in an alley, there are many unsavory characters in my area, and packages have been stolen in the past. Knowing this was an extremely important delivery, I had to make sure it remained safe.

At first, I tried having it delivered to my friend's house (she needed emergency pet/house sitting, hence my inability to be home), but because she lives in a different zip code, the delivery date was far later than what was required for this assignment. After failing to find any neighbors that could accept the delivery on my behalf, my friend called one of her colleagues in my area, and that person was kind enough to accept the delivery at her place of business.

Since all of this happened on a Saturday, I was unable to reach a live representative to explain the situation and confirm that my order would be sent to the new address. I left a detailed message and hoped for the best. Sure enough, by 11 a.m. on Monday, I had a voice mail from a FFTY representative confirming the new drop off. If you know me, you know I am a stickler for good customer service, and FFTY definitely delivered. Major props to their customer service reps!

Once I was back in my area, I picked up my beloved box of fruits and veggies and hightailed it home to see what I'd received. It was like Christmas morning! Immediately, I noticed the quality of my goods. My greens were fresh and crisp, my cantaloupe huge and already heady with scent, and that cauliflower? It took forever to cut into it because I didn't want to ruin its perfection. My apples were lovely and real looking (conventional grocery store apples look so plastic with all their shiny wax), the tomatoes ready to eat  at once - it was all wonderful, and I couldn't wait to start cooking.

Here's what came in my first box:
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 large cantaloupe
  • 1 large cippolini onion
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 Bosc pears
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lb red grapes
  • 3 Gypsy peppers
  • 1 Keitt Mango
  • 1 pint of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Honeycrisp apples
  • 5 white potatoes
That totaled up to just under the $50 budget I was provided with for this post. I chose the "More" size (which is $46) for this particular post, but would probably be okay with the Small or Regular sizes if I were to use the service regularly. Those run at $26 and $33 respectively for the Mixed Fruit & Veggie option, and both provide more than enough fresh produce for a single person or couple. The larger boxes are perfect for bigger households.
If you're a regular PGEW reader, you know this list is similar to my farmers market scores, only with a lot more fruit (which was the goal). Some might see all of this as overwhelming for a single person, but I see possibilities. This is such a great balance between regular cooking staples and fun items I don't usually buy, so if you enjoy cooking and want to give FFTY a try, I highly recommend the Mixed Fruit & Veggie box.

My cornucopia of goodness came with a list of everything I'd ordered, as well as a small newsletter that included a couple of recipes. While I had some ideas for new recipes of my own, I couldn't resist trying the recipes they provided. One of them was for Honey Poached Pears, which I was dying to try because I love poached pears; however, mine could still use a couple more days of ripening before I tackle that one, so I'll let you know how that recipe works out once they're ready.

The other recipe was for a Quinoa & Kale Salad that pretty much screamed my name, and since it made the best use of what I had on hand, I decided to share it with all of you here. I may be fluent in quinoa, but I'm always open to new ideas!

Quinoa & Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (serves 4-6)

(Adapted from www.veryculinary.com's recipe featured in FFTY's September 14th newsletter)
As always, I work with the ingredients I have on hand rather than running to the store to get something new (a PGEW cardinal rule), so I made some substitutions when it came to the dressing and seeds. However, I did post the ingredient list as originally written, so that you have the opportunity to try the lemon vinaigrette. 

Ingredients:
For the salad
4 c curly kale, finely chopped
2 c cooked quinoa
1/2 c red grape halves
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 c thinly sliced red onion (optional)
1/4 c sunflower seeds

For the dressing
1/4 c grapeseed (or other light oil)
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1 T raw honey
2 T Dijon mustard
Salt to taste

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until completely combined. Set aside.
2. In a larger mixing bowl, combine the chopped kale, peppers, grapes and quinoa, and mix together gently. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and mix again evenly to coat.
3. You can serve this immediately, but I found it was much better after letting it sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Serve as a side or as an easy entree salad, and enjoy!

* * * * *
As I mentioned in the headnotes, I did sub out a couple of things because I didn't have them available. I made a simple vinaigrette using apple cider vinegar, honey, spices, and grapeseed oil, and added chopped cashews instead of the sunflower seeds (since I have a healthy supply of those for my bake shoppe). I also couldn't resist adding some sliced red onion for extra crunch and flavor, but if you're not a fan of onions, feel free to leave them out.


This is a Kimbersalad if I've ever tasted one, and similar to some of my own creations. I've been dying to use sliced grapes in something for this blog for YEARS; sadly, I have a grape control problem, so they never seem to make it to the cooking stage. It was lovely to use them in a proper dish at long last, but I have to admit I'm happy to have the rest for snacking (they are so darn good!).

I have great plans for the rest of my veggies and fruits, from chopping and freezing some for later use (cantaloupe and mango for smoothies, peppers for sauces or stir fry dishes) to new creations I hadn't thought of until seeing what I was working with (you all know fresh produce is my food muse). My chard is definitely turning into a PGEW classic for Meatless Monday: my Quick & Easy Tofu, Mushroom & Swiss Chard Stir Fry. That one's begging for a photo makeover anyway, so this is perfect timing. In the meantime, I'm taking suggestions for good ways to use my cipollini onion. I don't want to just use it as a cooking base like I usually do, so if you have any favorite recipes or ideas, please list them in the comments below!

Final Thoughts (and a little gift for you!)

Obviously, I truly enjoyed my first experience using Farm Fresh To You. From the quality of the produce to the level of customer service, I was impressed with what was offered and delivered. About the only thing I felt would make the initial ordering experience easier for new visitors would be a map or list of the zip codes FFTY serves. They do let you enter your zip code to see if you they service your area, which is helpful. But for something like this post, I found it very difficult to find out exactly which areas of California are served so that I can let my readers know. An "at a glance" kind of map or list of zip codes served would be a wonderful addition to their current search function.

Other than that, I honestly love this service. It appeals to all my tastes, and would be a huge help in keeping me properly nourished when I can't make it to an actual store because I'm too sick. It also supports my local community and the farmers that make it possible for us to eat so well, something we should all support. And it's accessible. It's a wonderful option for those of us who don't have the time, mode of transportation, or the health to do our own food shopping. Accessibility has always been important to me, and now that I have my own health issues, it's become an important factor in the services I choose to use. This could be especially helpful during the colder months! And just imagine all the root veggies and hard squashes we'd see... *sigh*

But I digress.

Now for the fun part! As a member of FFTY, I have a special discount code to share with anyone who wants to sign up for this service! Use KIMB9439 to get $10 off your first box as a new subscriber (or if you haven't ordered in over 3 months)! By doing so, you'll also be helping me get closer to my next delivery box, so it's a win-win for all of us. To find out if FFTY delivers to your area, please follow this link and enter your zip code. If you're within their service area, you can use the code I gave you to sign up for your first box. PLEASE NOTE: Farm Fresh To You is only available in certain zip codes in California.

Thanks so much for reading, and whether you're a newbie like me, or a seasoned FFTY subscriber, I'd love to hear from you! What do you like most about the service? What's the coolest fruit or veggie you've received in one of your boxes? Talk to me! : )

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, your box sounds fabulous! So glad to be reading your blog again :)
    I've tried a couple different CSA services. I'm using Ooooby, I live in Fresno. It's the most convenient one I've used so far. This one doesn't deliver but the pick up location and times are really convenient. I'm from salinas and such a sucker for lettuce haha so that's what I've been most excited to get (you CANNOT get a good head of lettuce in the store anymore). I've been getting a good amount of beets and turnips which my family doesn't care for so after we eat the greens off of them, I take them to the office to share :) oh and I got persimmons this week - I've never used them - what do I do with them?!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...