While the health benefits of organic food are still unclear, a certainty is that the support for organic food and farming is steadily growing.
Driven by a passion for seasonal eating, the Green Box Regional Food Co-operative was established three years ago.
The Gerringong-based co-op sources fresh produce within a 160km radius in the South Coast and Southern Highlands, with produce including organic fruit, vegetables and eggs, dairy, honey and oil.
The mix includes certified organic vegetables from Terara and Dapto, citrus fruit from Kangaroo Valley, farmhouse cheese from using milk from certified organic farms, honey from Jervis Bay and organic olives from Menangle Park.
"It was really about a group of local people wanting to connect between local consumers and producers," explains Green Box chairman Chris Presland.
"We recognise the importance of local food to consumers."
The not-for-profit co-operative run by volunteers also sources organic drygoods from across the country and has more than 200 members.
A recent study by Stanford University found that the nutritional value of organic food is not superior to non-organic food. However, such reports don't deter consumers, who prefer local produce they believe lasts longer than supermarket-purchased items.
Presland says the feedback from consumers is that they appreciate the fresh food and knowing that it is grown locally.
"We support many new and established growers who have been able to expand their business because they can reach their customers more easily," he says.
Members order online weekly and then collect from the co-op's warehouse, where the food is packed within a day of picking.
"We're keen to see the model grow and have access to more producers," Presland says, adding that the group was looking to work with Flame Tree, a community Co-op opened in Thirroul just under two years ago.
Flame Tree is also opening its first store on October 18, with an official opening on October 20.
For details about Green Box, phone 0427 005 881 and for Flame Tree 0430 476 034.