When Barb Harling, Kathy Mandelert and a few other local Chippewaites started CHIPS (or the Chippewa Falls Organic Food Buying Club) in 1980, the idea was a novel one. Back then, you simply couldn’t buy organic food in the grocery stores and natural food co-ops were stores that existed only on the East and West coast — certainly not anything that could be found in the Chippewa Valley. So the small group decided to take matters into their own hands and have quality organic foods delivered right to their own distribution site. Today they are still going strong. Barb Harling says that at their peak, their 48 members placed a $7,000 order almost 8 times a year. Today, 24 people now help keep the club chugging along with orders every 8 weeks or so.
So what can the buying club offer? You can order bulk, frozen foods, baby foods, perishable/dairy foods, health and beauty products, as well as beverages and supplements. Produce is a bit hard to keep from spoiling, so that is something to get at the local farmers market, but almost anything else is available.
And the quantities of items vary by manufacturer. Personal care products and supplements can be ordered in individual amounts; some products like toasted sesame oil can be ordered in a 3-bottle set; but most items are ordered by the case, which have anywhere from 4 to 24 items. So ordering in bulk with family and friends is a great way of splitting and sharing your 24 bottles of organic something or other.
And in the 249 page catalog it would be hard not to find something you may need or want. The club meets at VFW, half a mile east on Hwy J every pick up date. The club is free to anyone who wants to join as long as they commit to work 1 hour a year at the VFW to help sort and get the food out to members. There is also a 3% markup on each order to cover club expenses.
For more information contact Kathi Mandelert 715-723-5992 firstname.lastname@example.org. Upcoming Order Dates: Sept 6, pick up Sept 13; Oct 3, pick up Oct 11; November 28, pickup Dec 6.