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Produce boxes offer healthy gift option

December 19, 2018
Hungry Harvest

Trying to get healthier in the new year can be hard, especially after the decadent holiday season. But eating healthier can be a little easier if you have fresh produce showing up at your door.

Local produce boxes are also a great gift idea. If you haven’t had a produce box delivery before, this is how it works: You sign up and fresh fruits and vegetables are delivered to your house. You can also pick them up from a set location.

Here’s a look at some boxes to check out this holiday season:

Ungraded Produce - A pair of Duke University students founded this company in 2015. They were inspired to find a way to make fresh foods more affordable and accessible. The program held a trial period on Duke’s campus before officially launching last year. Ungraded works with local farmers to source fresh but “ugly” fruits and vegetables. That produce is delivered to your door at about 30 percent less than grocery store alternatives. And for every box sold, Ungraded donates a portion of fresh produce to local pantries. Ungraded currently delivers to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Pittsboro, Cary Morrisville, Wake Forest, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. If you live outside that area, you can still order, but you will have to pick up your order at a set location.

Small fruit or vegetable boxes start at $10-11 and the largest boxes (which contain a mixture of fruit and vegetables) are $23.99.

I tried Ungraded a few weeks ago and I was impressed by the quality of the produce. Not everything was cosmetically perfect like you see at a grocery store, but everything was very fresh. My box also had something I hadn’t ever cooked before - spaghetti squash. I was able to use the fresh broccoli from the box and make cheese and broccoli spaghetti squash for dinner. It was delicious.

Hungry Harvest - An estimated 20 percent of produce delivered to grocery stores is rejected for various reasons - too big, too small, odd shaped, unattractive, there is already a large supply of the product at the store, etc. The produce is fine to eat, but would normally just be thrown away. That is where Hungry Harvest comes in. The company has deals with grocers to get the rejected produce. Small boxes start around $15. Hungry Harvest delivers to the Triangle area and even offers the option to add items like eggs, bread, hummus, granola and Videri chocolate to your box.

Bella Bean Organics - This company is run by the same people behind Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough. This service focuses on local, organic sustainably raised produce, meat and artisan products. Unlike a lot of CSA’s, you can get other stuff besides the traditional produce or meat. They have soap, cocktail mixes and baked goods. I’ve tried this box and it is great! I love the options to add in baked goods!

Papa Spuds - This produce box service has been in business since 2008 and now has more than 200 food products available per week. Delivery is included in your membership fee and Papa Spuds delivers to Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary, Morrisville, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina. Small boxes start at $15 and when you sign up your first two boxes are free.

The Produce Box - Founded in North Carolina more than 10 years ago, this service supports more than 70 farmers and 90 artisan food businesses across the state. You just go online and make your picks for your box. There are some pre-priced boxes (organic only, fruits only, meal kits, vegetables and fruit mixed box) that start at $24. And if you want something a little cheaper and smaller portioned, The Produce Box offers an “Ugly” produce box featuring blemished produce for $21.50.

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