Several years ago, we were really into making homemade LÄRABAR-type bars (so easy – but that is for another time). Costco, our regular source of medjool dates (great for the bar base), is kind of far from us, so if we ran out of dates we would maybe have to go without our favorite bars for a bit. That 21st Century, 1st World problem was unacceptable, so I went on an Internet search of affordable bulk dates. Fast forward a couple of hours to find me calling a place in Oregon that I had not heard of until 20 minutes before to find out how I could purchase 20 pounds of organic apples for $20. My journey with Azure Standard had begun.
What is Azure Standard? Well, Azure is a business that sells healthy products around the United States. While very general, that simple statement kind of fits who they are as an organization. Azure Standard is committed to selling products that are healthy for your body, your mind, the earth and your wallet. And they do so in a different way than we are used to. They sell national brands along with their own products and smaller niche brands. Your items are not shipped immediately after being put in your cart, and the item you want has a chance of going out of stock for a bit. But it all works!
Joining Azure Standard
If you would like to buy from Azure Standard you must first be added to a drop. A drop is a spot where a group of people come to pick up their dropped off purchases are. No drop set up in your area, or are the drops in your area not accepting new members, then start your own drop (which is what I did!). Then you can be the drop coordinator, the person who takes over reminders (mine were always by email) for that group. After you know your drop location then you can shop like you normally would online, filling your cart to your delight. The big difference with Azure is that your items will only ship once a month, as everything on your shipping route comes together. If your drop site has not met its collective minimum amount of purchases, the items from your drop site may not ship that month (when I started our drop 8 years ago, it consisted mostly of strangers – I don’t even remember how I connected with the original group – and we have yet to miss having our items ship any month, despite the waxing and waning characteristics of our group size). A day or two after your shopping “window” for the month has closed, you will be emailed a list that shows what items of yours did and did not ship (stuff goes out of stock occasionally; produce seems to do this especially), and the time and date to pick up your items. The drop date and time are typically the same each month, which helps for your planning. Show up on time, pick up your stuff (if you are feeling nice you can help others load their items) and go home to unload your items while your children quickly claim the empty boxes to play with.
Ok. That sounds confusing. It really is not! Here is a condensed version:
- Join drop site (or start your own)
- Select your items
- After your shopping window for the month has closed, wait to see if your items shipped
- Arrive at drop site at Azure-determined date and time to pick up your items
- Put items away; kids occupied by boxes for an hour or so
What to buy
One thing that originally got me excited about Azure Standard is their abundance of bulk items. I happen to like taking advantage of my pantry space by having quantities of food available. Buying in bulk also makes me happy by using less packaging (we would recycle or compost the Azure packaging) and made it so items we used often did not have to be purchased all the time. They also have great prices on organic items, including produce (the 20 lbs. of organic apples for $20 referenced above is not an exaggeration!).
Azure Standard has a TON of items, and searching through them may seem overwhelming at first. My first order arrived with a catalog which looked like a phone book from a decent-sized suburb. Kind of intimidating, but fun to thumb through. Instead of shopping from the catalog, I saved a shopping receipt from our co-op to compare items we bought often with items on Azure’s website. We found that Azure had much better prices on bulk items such as beans, nuts (remember the LÄRABARS!) and produce. Doing these quick price comparisons a few times helped me to learn what Azure’s store contained and made shopping from their site quicker and more fun.
I never did find a source of dates that made sense for us to order, but in the end it didn’t matter. Finding Azure Standard has made shopping for the foods we want easier and much more affordable – speaking from experience.