In November, just as my CSA was ending for the year, I bought a Groupon for an Urban Organic Original Value Produce Box for $20 including delivery to Westchester (the company is based in Brooklyn). I thought I’d hold onto the Groupon until January, when I’d have used up the last of my CSA share and would be starting to incorporate more supermarket vegetables into my shopping. Had I bought the box without the discount, I would have paid a $25 registration fee as a new customer, plus $34.99 for the produce, plus another $4.99 delivery charge to Westchester (other areas cost less).
Urban Organic is all about certified organic produce, not necessarily local. They bulk buy from many different sources, and do try to buy locally when possible. But considering my box contained grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines (in addition to sweet potatoes, green leaf lettuce, Russet potatoes, eggplant, broccoli, Granny Smith apples, and Bosc pairs — I declined delivery of carrots, bananas, and kiwi) and it is a freezing cold January in New York, it is not all from around here.
Here’s what the box looked like when I received it:
Unfortunately, all the heavy fruit was on top of the more delicate greens. The lettuce held up fine, but the spinach looked on its last legs. The eggplant was in the worst shape of the bunch, with its skin peeling off on its lower half (it looked like it had been wet for a long time), and the top quarter practically dissolved when I picked it up. After a night in the fridge, it was unusably mushy, and I had to throw it all out, even though I am usually happy to carve out bad parts to find what can be saved. That said, the rest of the produce looked mostly unblemished, save for some cosmetic bruising (particularly on the apples).
Best of all the, everything tasted great. The lettuce smelled as though we’d just pulled it from our home garden, and it was fresh and crisp. The citrus was full of sweet juicy flavor — no anemic, dried-out fruit here. We really enjoyed the pears and apples as well. It was a lot of fruit for us, though — we tend to eat more vegetables than fruit, and a week later there are still some pieces hanging out on our kitchen counter.
We are lucky that we have a couple nearby indoor farmer’s markets to choose from during the winter, and I would tend to buy my produce there than use any delivery service again. I like the atmosphere of the market, and if I had to choose I’d prefer to buy local produce over organic anyway. I’m also willing to buy non-organic produce from the supermarket (though my grocery does have a fairly large selection of organic, most of it shrink-wrapped on Styrofoam trays, which just slays me), so I don’t feel that I need a resource like a delivery service to keep our produce consumption up.
While Urban Organic seems like a pleasant one to work with (the driver called for directions and was courteous; a customer service agent called once to thank me for buying the Groupon and to let me know the box was on its way) and on the whole the produce was in good shape and tasty, it’s not the right service for me to use again, at any price.
Disclosure: If you use the Groupon link above to sign up for an account, I get $10 in Groupon Bucks when you buy your first Groupon. I bought this Urban Organic Groupon with my own money, and will continue to buy Groupons regardless of whether I earn their Bucks or not.