Food Co-Ops Testing Home Delivery Instacart

Organic vegetables, grains and cheese are now available on demand

For many dedicated home cooks, food co-ops have long been among the best places to shop. A membership fee and possibly a bit of time spent helping out in the store gains customers access to a market filled with local, thoughtfully sourced and often heavily discounted goods like produce, cheese, eggs, grains and sometimes meat and fish.

Now a handful of co-ops, like Good Grocer in Minneapolis, Harvest in Boston, Central Co-op in Seattle and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, are trying out delivery, allowing customers to pick out what they want online and have it delivered within an hour or two, Civil Eats reports.

Delivery, in many of these cases, is handled by an online partner, Instacart. Andrew Nodes of Instacart explains that co-ops "sell hyper-local and perishable items that don't have the exposure that national brands backed by multibillion dollar corporations do. Instacart is a way for them to increase customer exposure to those items." That's particularly true for co-ops that allow nonmembers to shop in their stores and pay full price. So far, C. E. Pugh of the National Co-op Grocers says that about 10 percent of the organization's 150 members are trying out delivery.

The co-op delivery is just one element of a quickly evolving grocery store landscape in which Amazon is reportedly trying out a grocery pickup system, where customers can place an order in advance and just swing by a depot to pick it up. Pretty soon, "running to the grocery store" may be a thing of the past.