Photo by Sarah Reed
Article by Jeremy Benson

Across Michigan, fruitarians, vegetarians, and omnivores who love their greens now have an alternative source for their favorite fruits and veggies. They need only to surf to the Door to Door Organics website and within mere clicks and keystrokes, a box of fresh organic produce will be on its way within the week.

Door to Door coordinates with independent, organic farms to provide customers with weekly rations of local produce. "There's a lot of flexibility while signing up," says Door to Door President Chad Arnold. When ordering, customers can select how much they receive—from the 4-5 fruit and 4-5 vegetable varieties in the $23 "Bitty Box," to the $55 "Large box," which contains 7-9 kinds of fruit and 8-10 vegetables—and can choose to receive all-fruit, all-vegetables, or the standard combination of both.

Each Friday, eaters can view the upcoming week's menu and can make any substitutions or additions they would like from the available foods. Changes can be made up until the morning before delivery day, which is every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, depending on a customer's location. Currently, however, Door to Door's local delivery is limited; customers beyond the network pay an extra $10 for UPS delivery. "We're always looking for places to expand," says Arnold.

Sarah Reed, a mother, barista and photographer from Davison, signed up for the delivery service after a friend's website featured Door to Door. "The deciding factors were the convenience of having my produce come to my door every week, and the fact that the produce is organic and affordable," she says. Sarah's family especially looks forward to each week's offering of fruit — but enjoys the occasional veggie nonetheless. "My son thought seeing the tops on the carrots was hilarious!"

Essentially, Door to Door Organics acts in place of a trip to the grocery store, which can be fraught with temptations of Little Debbie and impulse Cheez-It buying. Besides fruits and vegetables, customers can add other grocery items to their order, like organic candy bars and Fair Trade coffee, purchased from foreign coffee bean growers at humane prices.

But delivering groceries is not Door to Door's only mission. Arnold says his company has a unique opportunity to "shift the paradigm" by giving smaller farms a chance to compete with large-scale industrial agriculture: "The challenge of small farms is they get to a point, a size where they saturate the available eaters, and are bound by distribution. We can build a partnership to expand distribution." One way Door to Door does this is by purchasing extra crops that would otherwise become compost before a small farmer could find a market.

The service also uses its website and email newsletters to educate customers about where their food is coming from. The newsletters introduce the men and woman who harvest the plants, highlight a particular variety of vegetables, or discuss the environmental impact of farming techniques. The website features a "site of the week" directing visitors to websites that offer further educational opportunities, for instance, interviews with the director of Food, Inc., a documentary that analyses America's agricultural; corporations. "I like learning about the people growing my food. It helps me feel more connected in such a fast-paced world," says Sarah.

Sarah regularly makes a delicious stir-fry with the vegetables from her Bitty Box. "Having produce coming to my home every week really encourages us to eat more fresh veggies and fruit." With growing season in Michigan just around the corner, people like Sarah and all those living in this fast-paced world might find Door to Door Organics a convenient solution to supporting local growers and committing to a healthier, environmentally friendly diet.

Much more information about the kinds of fruits and vegetables Door to Door Organics distributes, the farms they work with, and their mission, or to just find out if you live within their local delivery area, visit their Michigan website.

© Jeremy Benson, 2010