If you want to save money on organic food and pastured meats you have to be part of a food club. A food club is essentially a food coop and depending on how it’s managed there is either a very small mark up in the pricing or none. I’m lucky I live in Portland as there are several that I can choose from. In our next house I probably won’t be as lucky and will probably create one. They require a lot of work and effort but provide the best bang for your buck. It’s best to start small and then grow as you see manageable. You will have minimum purchase amounts that you have to meet so consider that also.
What kinda of cost savings am I talking about? Well, I can not disclose the exact pricing of costs as I signed an agreement that I would not but I can allude to the costs if you know what I mean.
Savings example 1
I just bought 9lbs (144 oz) of Organic B Grade Maple Syrup for less than $50 – retail cost based on Amazon – $117.00
Savings example 2
8 lbs of organic Braeburn apples for less than $7. Retail cost – based on my local grocer – $14.32
Here’s how to create a Food Buying Club:
What you need:
1. People who want to buy food directly from the supplier and provide the labor to split these items up for families. You should make it mandatory that people help with splitting up the products/food.
2. A way to track and organize the purchases.
3. A Strong organizer or committee. This is a lot of work but it’s worth it as you can feed your family high quality food for less.
4. A small amount of start up capital for any licenses you may need, scales, paper bags etc. You can always ask people to contribute to the supplies you need. You may need a business license. You might also need to rent space in a church or local community center to do the splits based on your city ordinances.
5. A bank account
6. Chest Freezer
Now that you have your members here are some to do items:
1. Start by orienting members on their responsibilities in the club. Are there dues? Are they required to volunteer?
2. The organizer and/or committee must decide how orders are organized and placed. Will there be a Vendor lead who manages each vendor account and does all the organizing and invoicing?
3. How do people pay for purchases? Do you have people prepay into an account?
4. How often does the club meet to go over items? How often do you place orders?
5. If people can’t help do you charge a markup on what they order and/or give a discount to people who volunteer?
The first food club I was part of I found on meetup.com. If you don’t but you enough family and friends interested in this you should try this or you can put a call out on craigslist for free. Meetup does have a cost you can often find sponsors to pay the fee or have a small join fee for the club.
Now that you have the people and a way to organize it you need to find places that you can buy from. Here are a two at the top of my head.
Frontier Organics – tons of organic health, bath, home, beauty products and more.
Azure Standard – everything from organic product, meat, home products, etc.
Honeyville Food Products – You can buy 25lbs of Almond Flour and split it with people for an amazing savings
Ok, next simply start searching in your area for organic wholesale produce companies, organic coffee wholesale, etc. Also check local farms and see if they will sell to you and negotiate a discount for bulk purchases. You can save on pastured animals by buying whole cows, pigs and splitting them amongst members.
This is not limited to food. Think about home product companies, cloth diapers, toy companies, clothing companies that sell in wholesale.
You can bite off more than you can chew pretty easily so again – start small. Food is a good way to start and see how many helping hands are necessary to run your club.
When we move I’m planning on creating a food club and charging a small markup on the products and doing all the work myself – all the ordering, splits,etc. The markup will be used to cover our food costs – not make money. If you have the time and energy to do this you can pay for your food costs with your labor.