Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Untrucked: Full Circle Comes to the Bay Area

So I have something very exciting to share with you all. It's actually not about food trucks, but it is about food, and I know our readers really love food. I am participating in the Bay Area preview of a new Farm to Table service called Full Circle. Similar to a CSA, they offer organic produce that is harvested in season from a bunch of small local farms and deliver it your doorstep each week. They also take it one step further and even deliver meats, seafood, dairy products and grains. It's one stop shopping, but better, because it's organic, and it helps support small local farmers.

By now many of you have heard about the concept of a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, where you can buy shares of a (usually local) farm's output of fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis. It benefits the farm because they have guaranteed sales, and the consumer is treated to food that is fresh, local and without a big carbon footprint. We in the Bay Area live in a great area for these types of services because we can grow a wide variety of crops. Brian and I have been members of a CSA for years, and we enjoy trying out new recipes with the produce that we receive week to week. While some CSA's offer customization of the weekly box, ours does not. There have been weeks when we ended up with more leeks than we cared for. But it did force us to be creative in our cooking!

Full Circle started as a small organic farm in Washington over 15 years ago. Since then they have brought their organic produce to thousands of tables. When they realized that one farm couldn't do it all, they began sourcing from other local farms and have evolved into the service they are today. They are currently delivering in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska and are expanding their service to the Bay Area. Select Bay Area customers are taking part in their preview, and this was the first week of delivery.

They are similar to a CSA in that when you sign up for service, you choose the box size that best suits your lifestyle. Currently they have four sizes ranging from Seed (mini) to Harvest (large). However, unlike our current CSA, you can actually customize your box week to week. When you login to your account page you are able to see what your weekly delivery contains. There you can sub out what you don't like and add extra of what you do want. In addition to the box delivery, Full Circle also has what they call a "Green Grocer" section, and you can add various grocery items to round out your order. Each week the selection changes, based upon what they have procured from the local farms.

That's the background on Full Circle. Now onto the fun stuff! The sign-up was super easy, and their website is very easy to navigate. They don't actually tell you what your delivery window is until after you complete the sign-up, so I mistakenly entered in my work address instead of my home address. After I saw the confirmation email that detailed out the hours, I quickly emailed customer service to change the delivery address. They were very responsive, and I even received a reply on a holiday, so score one for friendly and prompt customer service. Last Wednesday was my first box delivery, and there is a four day window from Thursday to Sunday prior to the day of your delivery in which you can make changes. As soon as I received the email that my box was ready to customize, I logged into my account. The box that I selected was the medium size Garden box, enough to feed a family of three, or roughly 30-40 servings.

My account page listed out all of the produce that was coming in my first box, and what I really liked was that each item had a link that explained not only what the item was but also included a description of the farm on which it was grown. It was pretty neat to see exactly where my food was coming from, and on some pages there are even pictures of the farmers themselves, so I thought that was great. It's easy to substitute; you just click the drop down menu of the item that you don't want and choose one that you do. For me, the leeks were a no-no. I have bags of frozen leeks, leek chips and even dried leeks. My current CSA loads us up so I am leeked-out. I substituted cucumbers. I also swapped out some kale for chard and added in some blueberries. In total my box contained one bag of Yukon gold potatoes, a cucumber, a bunch of broccoli, Valenica oranges, peaches, nectarines, one bunch of radishes (they are huge!), a pint of blueberries, a container of strawberries, a bunch of Lacinato kale, a bunch of green leaf lettuce and a bunch of spinach.

I also wanted to try out the Green Grocer, so I added artichokes, zucchini, a ruby red grapefruit, a loaf of ciabatta bread and a bag of brown rice. They do have quite an extensive list of groceries, including meats, cheeses, grains, coffee and chocolate, but for my first order I didn't want to go overboard, considering I didn't know exactly how much produce was going to be in my original box. Full Circle also includes their weekly newsletter, which contains information about what they are offering as well as two recipes. More recipes can be found on the Full Circle website, and some are in video form.

I knew that my delivery would occur sometime before 6 AM on Wedneday morning, but to my surprise it was at my door late Tuesday night. I had two boxes, and after unpacking and checking out my items, I watched Masterchef on my DVR while thinking of what I could cook with all of my produce. It's really a large quantity of food! Granted, I do have five dozen eggs in my refrigerator right now (Costco rocks!), but I could barely fit in everything that I received. I had to stuff everything in and then quickly close the door so nothing would fall out!

Between my Costco run on Sunday, my Full Circle delivery today and my normal CSA box on Thursday, I am going to be swimming in fresh produce. I hope the weather doesn't get too hot, as I don't want anything to spoil. I am looking forward to trying out some fun new recipes and will happily take suggestions on what to cook.

Full Circle Organic Produce Delivery (@fullcirclefarms)

The produce described in this article was provided courtesy of Full Circle.

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