For lunch yesterday, I ate delicious beef borscht with local beef and beer bread with cheese and Italian spices. The best part of this lunch, other than the taste? I didn't make any of it.
Back in September, Erin shared an idea she'd been working on that summer--the idea of a food co-op. She wanted to can, freeze, make jam, dehydrate fruit, make her own tofu, peanut butter, yogurt, bread...and was exhausted by the prospect of doing it all herself. So, she asked a group of us like-minded folk if we wanted to join her in creating "shares" of homemade food items and sharing them with a group of people. James and I were totally in--we are just two people with one tiny freezer and no canning skills. We'd chosen to freeze one thing each year, be it strawberry jam or applesauce, and just buying the other things we wanted.
There are 9 "shares" in the group (we are 14 people, but many of us live in pairs) and we meet twice a month. On the first Sunday of the month, 5 groups bring their shares--9 total, for the full group. On the third Sunday, the other 4 groups bring their shares. This way, each group is only making one item per month, but we all receive items twice a month.
Items have varied, from jam to pasta to homebrew, pesto, yogurt, soup, bread, granola, cheese, beef jerky, all homemade. The only rule is that you must bring 9 shares and that each month, there should be some kind of bread item. Determining how much of each item counts as a share is tricky, and we base that off of the materials, time, and energy that goes into a well-made loaf of bread. This means that pesto shares are significantly smaller than soup shares.
So far it's working out great. It helps me look forward to Sunday evenings again, and gives James and I a chance to make a lot of the things we've always wanted to, but have never gotten to. Next week, I'm tackling homemade peanut butter--I hope my food processor stands up to the challenge. :)
I am happy to see how well our co-op seems to be going, and love talking about it. If you want to start your own group, let me know--I'd be happy to share more details. I also hope to take this idea with me wherever we may go next, and start a new group in a new place. And really, the main reason I love our food co-op? I get to EAT tons of delicious things I would have never attempted to make myself. Yum.