— By BRIAN SMITH
Jamie Harrison is trying to get people to eat healthier, but not in a way you might think.
While many people are going vegetarian or vegan, Harrison is opting for more of a traditional way of eating without all the chemicals and preservatives. Off the Farm Food Co-Op was established last year and offers local, grass fed/grass finished Angus and Longhorn beef and pastured chicken and pork and other organic dry goods.
Harrison, a former school teacher who went off animal products for a few years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, said her company drops off orders at a number of points in the area, including one in Weatherford.
“After many doctor’s recommendations and wanting to change my diet, I decided to become a vegetarian,” Harrison said. “For several years, I did not eat meat, eggs, nor drink milk. However, once I became pregnant with my first son, I decided to slowly add meat back into my diet.”
Her Rhome based company started with friends and family also wanting a healthier way of eating and really didn’t start off as a business. Harrison said she started off with friends and family only and was told she could start working with larger farms if she could guarantee a minimum order.
Word of mouth began and Harrison said she is up to almost 850 customers right now.
“The movement of knowledge about what we are eating is increasingly getting more exposure,” Harrison said. “My favorite thing about (Off the Farm) is getting to teach people about the food they eat and where they get it.”
The Weatherford pickup point, located off Tin Top Road, began with a friend who had 10 or 15 of her Bible study members interested in taking part in the co-op. Harrison says there are about 20-25 Weatherford-area residents taking part right now.
Because of the quick growth of the company, she says she has had to do minimal advertising, doing so only on Facebook.
She said the premise is simple. Your order what you need online, knowing that everything comes from North Texas suppliers. There is no minimum order with everyone able to order one month and skip when they need to. She said she orders beef one month and chicken the next.
Harrison then compiles all her orders and sends them to suppliers. Orders are then individually bagged and delivered to the drop off sites where customers pick them up.
Just like the store, orders are paid for on delivery. There is no membership fee, however each member is required to pay $10.00 on their first order for an insulated tote bag delivery service. The insulated tote bags will be used to bag and transport your order. A $5 delivery fee is also charged per order.
Harrison said there is no markup on prices, comparing what she offers as having similar quality to Whole Foods.
“Along with this movement is this co-op style “grocery shopping,” Harrison said. “It’s not new, but seems new to most people of my generation.”
Along with the meat, Harrison said the co-op also sells raw honey, along with breads, oatmeal, and three different types of gluten free soup mix, including black bean and southwest.
Like any good entrepeneur, Harrison is looking to expand the business and make it easier for her customers, including considering online ordering “sooner rather than later.”
To learn more about the company and how it works, visit www.offthefarmfood.com. The website also provides drop sites, cooking tips and recipes.