Written by Anita
April 16, 2016
Okay, we’ll admit it—although the idea of “eating local” is really appealing, it often entails a fair amount of work. Finding regional producers, frequenting numerous farmers’ markets weekly, and keeping up with what is in season sometimes takes more effort than we can fit into our hectic schedules. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares offer one solution, but stories abound of CSA baskets that overflow with a few seasonal items that you (and your friends and family) quickly tire of cooking and eating. And CSA shares often must be picked up at a specific location at a specific time, which adds just one more errand to your already lengthy list.
Enter 4P Foods. Founder Tom McDougall has made buying local dairy, produce, and meats super easy. Users just create an online account (there’s no minimum commitment and no membership fees), choose the bag size (small, medium, or large) and type (dairy, produce, protein), and choose the delivery location (4P delivers to a variety of home and office buildings throughout the area). Each Monday, you receive an e-mail telling you what is in that week’s bag, along with recipes that you can make with the bag’s bounty. Skip the bag, swap out items using 4P’s easy point system, or donate it to charity before the two-day cutoff period, all done easily online. Later that week, the produce is delivered to your home or office in insulated bags or boxes that you return the next week. It’s that simple!
Most of the produce comes from farms in the Washington DC local foodshed: Virginia and Maryland, with some winter produce coming from North Carolina and Pennsylvania. On occasion, items (for example, citrus fruit) may be sourced from further afield, but the goal is to items from farm-to-door within 24 to 48 hours.
We joined 4P Foods last fall and have been thrilled with our weekly produce bag’s quality, variety, and convenience. (You can see what was in past deliveries since January here.) We’ve enjoyed trying a variety of recipes using new-to-us items like certified organic purple Mizuna from Sunny Slope Organics in Kirkwood, PA, Tree-Ripened Asian pears from Saunders Brothers Orchard near Charlottesville, VA, and Pepper Bomb mix from Underground Greens in DC. We’ve also sampled fun local food items like raw, wildflower honey from Bees & Trees in Elkwood, VA, cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices from Misfit Juicery in DC, and Kimchi from No. 1 Sons in Arlington, VA. Customer service is a breeze (and don’t be surprised if you find Tom at the other end of the line!)
The 4 “Ps” of 4P Foods are simple: Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit. For every 10th bag sold, one bag is donated to Martha’s Table, the Warrenton Food Bank, and other local-area food access organizations working to provide healthful, affordable food to those in need.
Want to learn more about becoming one of 4P Foods’ “P-eeps”? Then buy tickets now for the 4P Foods Earth Day Party, where you’ll have a chance to meet Tom and several of his local farmers, sample food and drink, and enjoy fun giveaways. Or plan to attend the 2nd Annual Whiffletree Farms and 4P Foods Spring Squawker, where you’ll tour Jesse Straight’s (pictured here) family farm while enjoying live music, food truck fare, and shopping. (Early birds can sign up for a tour of 4P Foods’ warehouse at 11am). Easy P-easy!