Paying for Organic Produce Delivery Doesn’t Make Sense

good vs. bad ways to spend moneyIn my quest to try more parts of the sharing economy this year, I've revisited a favorite that I've enjoyed in the past: Groceries. Specifically, organic produce delivered to my door.

It didn't work so well with a delivery in April. Though most of the organic produce delivered by Farm Fresh To You tasted great, the $27 charge for a small box of vegetables and fruit seemed exceedingly high. The same items were a little more when delivered by Safeway, which I'll get to in detail later, but the delivery is about half of the total cost.

Pictured here is what was delivered by Farm Fresh To You:

  • 3 Navel oranges
  • 1 Hass avocado
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 bunch red radishes
  • 1 package blueberries (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 bunch lettuce
  • 1 bunch Nantes carrots

All are organic and all tasted great, though the lettuce was a little wilted. Quantity and the delivery price, not quality, was where it failed for me.

Driving is worth the savings

I drive a few miles to my local farmer's market every week, and I rarely buy organic produce. I don't think organic is necessary on items with thick skins, such as oranges. And while not everything at the farmer's market is organic, I talk to enough farmers there to know that an organic label is too much hassle for them, and that many of their crops are pesticide-free anyway.

The debate over organic produce aside, I still thought $27 was too much for what was delivered. I spend about $30 or so per week at the farmer's market for twice as many fruits and vegetables.

Delivery service must eat up most of the cost for the organic produce that was delivered to my house. I expect to pay extra for delivery, but paying $10 more for organic produce I could have found at a nearby farmer's market or grocery store seems steep.

$27 for $17 worth of organic produce

Here's how much the same organic produce would have cost at Safeway, according to the grocer's website. All of the items except for the avocado and blueberries were offered as organic at Safeway:

  • 3 Navel oranges: $2.96
  • 1 Hass avocado: $1.70
  • 2 kiwis: $1.78
  • 1 bunch radishes: $2.19
  • 1 pkg blueberries: $4.39
  • 1 bunch lettuce: $2.79
  • 1 bunch carrots: $1.39

Total: $17.20

Safeway has various delivery charge options, depending on what time you set it for. Basic delivery is $12.95, pushing the total order to $30.15, or about $3 more than what the farmers charged.

Safeway's delivery cost could drop to only $3 or $6, depending on the delivery window, dropping the total price of my delivery to $20.20-$23.20.

Or I could walk or drive to the store, pay $17.20 for it all, and leave with the satisfaction of saving $10.

Not leaving sharing economy entirely

I've written at my other personal finance website, Add Vodka, about how my disappointment in making money by dog sitting in the sharing economy may lead be to drop out of that side hustle. But I don't think this meager delivery of fruits and vegetables will convince me to get out of the sharing economy entirely.

I will, however, cancel the produce delivery service because I don't think it's a great value. I tried the service in 2013 and came to the same conclusion after a few months, determining that a weekly drive to the farmer's market was worthwhile despite taking an hour or so out of my workday.

I was a big fan of Webvan in the late 1990s, getting groceries delivered for a fair price and saving me a trip to the grocery store. But maybe that's what put Webvan out of business: Not charging enough for delivery.

Summer vacation is coming soon, giving me more chances to try out the sharing economy. Next up will be Airbnb, and hopefully a few others.

This post by Aaron originally ran at CashSmarter.com.

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7 thoughts on “Paying for Organic Produce Delivery Doesn’t Make Sense

  1. I am that girl who loves to touch, squeeze, and smell her vegetables and fruits before purchase so this would never be a great fit for me. I think 27 bucks is way too much money to have someone shop for me at the grocery store. I think these are small luxuries that the filthy rich should indulge in....just saying.

    1. Post author

      Agreed. Seeing and touching vegs, fruits before buying is important to a lot of people, especially if you can't afford a delivery service anyway.

  2. We recently tried a similar delivery service and cancelled it after 6 weeks. Ours cost $35 (Toronto, Canada) per week and each basket had a similar mix of produce...maybe an extra vegetable or fruit tossed in there.

    The problem we had was that for almost 6 weeks straight we kept getting the same 2-3 vegetables and 1-2 fruits. We got tired of eating them after the third week so the produce rotted the 4th week and we had to throw it out. The 5th week, we tried customizing the order for an additional fee but then we paid almost $40 for something we could have bought for about half as much.

    One thing I liked about the weekly delivery was the included recipe list of what you can make with the vegetables. The first few weeks it was great because we got all the necessary ingredients in the delivery or we needed something extra that we had readily available. After that the recipes got a little more complex (remember, the same veggies were delivered and there are so many simple recipes I assume) so we needed to buy extra ingredients.

    Though this service may work for some, it doesn't work for us. Both my wife and I work next to grocery stores and there is a market on my way home so we can buy the same produce for less on our way home.

    1. Post author

      I'm convinced the delivery fee is way too high for these services and that only people who can't get to an organic produce grocery store or a farmer's market will use such services. The service I'm still trying out, again, at least offers me the chance to change my order if I don't want the same vegs every time.

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