Basket Case Organics brings affordable organics to your front door
“Affordable” and “organic” aren’t words you often see together, but a local company is making that combination sound a little less crazy.
Basket Case Organics began just over a year ago by a group of homeschool parents who wanted to buy organic produce in bulk and split it to save costs. They’ve since taken that idea and multiplied it by about 300. That’s the number of subscribers they currently have, despite not having done any advertising for their enterprise.
“We had no idea,” said Denise Aiello, who owns Basket Case Organics with her husband, Ron Aiello. “This was going to be one of those specialty things that maybe 60 people would be interested in.”
It turns out quite a few people like the idea of being able to select their own organic produce, have it delivered to their door year-round, and pay less than they would at the grocery store.
To test out their services, I ordered the Bitty Box, their smallest offering, featuring roughly 10 different fruits and 10 different veggies for $20. (If I had a bigger household, I could’ve opted for the Bountiful Box for $35 or Colossal Case for $55.) I could choose to get it weekly, every other week, monthly, or a few times a year, with no commitment. For about a month, I went with the weekly option. BCO delivers three times a week, and my delivery day was Tuesday. On Friday, I got an email letting me know what would be in the basket—actually a plastic tub—that week. If I didn’t like something, I had until Sunday morning to view the substitution list and swap something out. For instance, one week I substituted mango for grapefruit, spinach for cabbage and red onion for potatoes. I was also emailed that week’s bill, which I could pay through PayPal or check. That Tuesday after work, a plastic tub was on my front porch filled with the week’s goodies and an ice pack inside to keep them cool.
The food comes primarily from organic distributors in California, like Veritable Vegetables in San Francisco, with tropical fruits from Mexico. When produce is bountiful during Nevada’s warmer months, some produce is locally grown, and Aiello is open to distributing more from local growers, including things like eggs. However, she says she doesn’t want to cut into local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offerings.
Some may view a direct delivery service of organic produce to be in competition with CSAs and farmers’ markets. Churchill Butte Organics is one local CSA that delivers year-round, thanks to their hoophouses, and the Great Basin Community Food Co-op offers locally grown produce all year. Cutting into their market is not Aiello’s intention. If anything, she hopes Basket Case can help get more people involved with local foods.
“We believe strongly in the CSA,” she said. “We’re members of the local co-op. The idea of getting people to eat as much organic as possible is strong through the co-ops and CSAs. A lot of our customers were taking the summer off [from our service], which we highly encourage.” Other subscribers supplement their CSA baskets with produce from Basket Case. “The vast majority of our people never ate organic before, they just think it’s a cool idea. So hopefully we’re bringing more people into that fold.