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OPINION: Purchase foods that help Mitchell

Food is the universal form of energy. We all need some form of it to survive. You, your family, your neighbors, the person who delivers your mail, your pet, even the car you drive needs energy to get you from point A to point B. Food drives our b...

Billy Mawhiney
Billy Mawhiney

Food is the universal form of energy. We all need some form of it to survive. You, your family, your neighbors, the person who delivers your mail, your pet, even the car you drive needs energy to get you from point A to point B. Food drives our bodies, our budgets, our paychecks and even our conversations. Food is important to us all.

I get the question often about Bountiful Baskets, a company based in Mesa, Ariz., where you pay $15 (plus a $1.50 processing fee) for a delivery of produce. Half is full of veggies and half is full of fruit ($25 for organic). It certainly sounds like a deal.

Who wouldn't want a hint of summer with a pineapple in the depths of a February winter, here in South Dakota? So, I've looked into the service they offer and while I think competition is a healthy form of business practice, I want to share with you what I found.

The Pros:

According to the website, you get six fruit items and six vegetable items for just $15.

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That's a lot for the money, considering I have heard of someone receiving 11 pounds of strawberries as an add-on to their order. You can also get year-round produce that is not available in this region, such as pineapples in February and strawberries in March.

The Cons:

According to the Arizona Secretary of State website, the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op never once filed an annual report and remains not in good standing for that reason. In addition, Bountiful Baskets has a Better Business Bureau rating of F from never responding to the 19 complaints filed against it with the BBB of Arizona.

Zero dollars are earned in the community of Mitchell, or even South Dakota, for that matter. Zero tax dollars are generated. With a processing fee of $3 the first time and the $1.50 fee each delivery, where does this revenue go? Bountiful Baskets claims not to be a company or a nonprofit and 100 percent volunteer-operated in each delivery spot. This leaves zero accountability financially or if someone gets sick from the food.

When you purchase a pineapple in February from a local grocer, it probably comes from the same Mexican farm as the Bountiful Baskets pineapples. When you pay no tax, no money is generated for a second sheet of ice for the Mitchell Activities Center or a library renovation. Even though that pineapple in your local grocery store may cost a little more, you helped to keep your neighbor and someone's parent or child employed so they can generate even more money for the local economy.

For the past two summers, Mitchell has had a CSA (community supported agriculture) program where you can buy shares directly from the farmer for weekly deliveries.

There are no pineapples in this program, but you can speak to someone on the phone, visit the farm where your peppers were produced and get a refund if you received a bad tomato.

When you shop at the Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings, your purchasing power is helping local merchants pay for swim or dance lessons for their children and keeping the market vibrant and enticing to new merchants. Those vendor fees go right back into James Valley Community Center -- a local entity.

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Can we have a varied local food system here in Mitchell? A CSA, Farmers' Market, local grocer and possibly Bountiful Baskets could all co-exist. They all put fresh food on the table, but one of them does not give back to the community of Mitchell.

Related Topics: FOOD
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