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Local Food Boxes Makes Supporting Local Producers and Eating Healthier Easy

Local Food Boxes Makes Supporting Local Producers and Eating Healthier Easy

If you are striving to eat healthier and you enjoy quality, hand-picked items sourced from local producers, check out Root Cellar’s Local Food Boxes.

Root Cellar’s Local Food Boxes started in 2011, a bit before the delivery meal plan trend of services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh caught on. While you may think they have similar characteristics, Root Cellar’s Local Food Boxes set themselves apart. Featuring three different box options, all contents are 100 percent Missouri local, the boxes are not delivered and they do not form complete meals. Instead, They encourage subscribers to be creative and use the ingredients to better understand food and how it can be used to create in the kitchen.

Root Cellar owner and food box founder Jake Davis encourages current and potential subscribers not to think of the boxes as meal plans at all. Holding a degree in agricultural education, Davis took ownership of Root Cellar in 2011 with his wife, Chelsea, who holds a degree in rural sociology. Their combined education inspired the couple to incorporate new, food system benefiting ideas into Root Cellar, despite neither of them having had any retail experience before becoming the owners.

“I think my education background is the most valuable thing,” says Jake. “We spend a whole bunch of time educating people on what eating local means.”

Those looking to make a transition into eating fewer processed foods or supporting the local economy will find the Local Food Boxes to be a great fit. With options for every diet and the ability to feed two or more people, the three box types offer something for everyone.

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Bounty - Great for those looking to try local fresh produce, the Bounty box is an assortment of eight to 12 local produce items.

Barnyard - This box is for those looking to get the best of animal-sourced products. It contains a half-gallon of local milk, a dozen farm-fresh eggs, two high-quality meat products and a handcrafted dairy item.

Ploughman’s - The most popular Local Food Box, based on the English Ploughman’s lunch, this box contains a combination of meats, cheeses and veggies. Four to six staple produce items, one classic meat item and and an additional artisan food item (such as handcrafted cheese, jams, fresh salsa, etc). It is designed to provide the best of both worlds from the Bounty and Barnyard boxes for a smaller number of people.

The boxes are available by seasonal subscription. While some may be hesitant to commit to a whole season rather than a one-time box or one-month deal, Davis explains that seasonality is most of the fun and excitement of what they offer. While some weeks are bountiful, others are less so due to certain conditions.

Take, for example, the large amount of rain Columbia just experienced. Davis explains that because of the influx of water, it can be predicted that in four weeks, the boxes may see a decrease because farmers will have to replant. However, in about eight weeks, crops will be bountiful because of this. The boxes teach subscribers how to work with unforeseen events and how to make the most out of both abundant and lacking food availability.

“We are asking people to give a little flexibility for us to give them the very best of what we can locate,” says Davis

The box pictured is the Ploughman’s Box. This week’s box contained:

Invermos Valley Farm summer sausage, Edgewood Creamery farmhouse cheese, Country Goodies pickled jalapenos, Thoenen tomatoes, Five Star Produce carrots, Show-Me Produce bib lettuce and Pick n Pick asparagus.

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Employees spend lots of time hand-bundling produce and packing each box a day or so before in-store customer pick up. An accompanying e-newsletter is sent to customers along with each of the three different box types to eliminate paper waste. It is written weekly by Jake and Chelsea, who are both excellent cooks and experts on local, seasonal food.

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The letter tells which producer and area each product is from, gives unique recipes on how to incorporate the ingredients with things that most people probably already have in their pantry and even provides “food tips” for seasonal items, even if said item isn't in the box. Food tips range from how to store produce to get maximum flavor and use, to how to use extra products sitting around in new ways you may not have thought of.  

The spring/summer subscription season is from April 6 to October 27, but if you are interested in becoming a subscriber, you can join at any time during the season. You may sign up for a single box type or combine the boxes to enjoy more variety.

To learn more about how the boxes work, visit . There, view each box’s detail and set up your account to start receiving your own weekly box and support local farmers!

Box pickup is at Root Cellar’s new location, 1005 Park Ave., Thursday 12 to 7 pm and Friday 10 am to 7 pm. There is also a last minute pickup period from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday.  Normal Root Cellar grocery store hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 am to 7 pm Saturday 9 am to 5 pm Closed Sunday & Monday.

The program is also offered at Root Cellar’s Jefferson City location at 306 E High St. Hours are the same as the Columbia location.

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