At present, this exists only in Europe, but it sounds like a US expansion might be possible.
To get any details for any individual assembly -- including finding out what's for sale! -- you need to register (full name, password and email). After registering, you still need to "join" each assembly individually before you see any goods, which feels a bit weird: I thought I was shopping for groceries, apparently I'm now in some sort of club. Or rather three clubs: the first two I tried had nothing for sale, which almost had me give up, but the third one does have some stuff:
A variety of vegetables, ranging from very to extremely expensive, think 2 to 4x of what you'd pay in a regular supermarket -- I guess they're artisinal or something. But the potatoes I bought earlier today were the same kind, also sourced from the region, and still cost half of what they're asking. They do have a huge variety of tomatoes, and I'd be happy to pay 3x the regular price for a tomato with an actual taste.
Apart from the veggies, that assembly also has wine and bread for prices that are average for good quality stuff, and overpriced chutneys and condiments, the kind you only buy as a gift.
This is not a terribly convincing display, to be honest, but I imagine the experience is very different in France, where they seem to have a much higher concentration of assemblies. Not completely different, though, since I can't imagine they have any chance of competing on price -- the regular food retail chain is bound to be ruthlessly efficient in that respect.
The whole concept has the huge downside that you have to pre-order AND be at the assembly location at a specific time, compared to the supermarket (no pre-order required, open all the time), the farmer's market (no pre-order required, open more often than any single assembly) or, I guess, web deliveries (though I don't intend to order a tomato from the web, ever).
But in context -- it's not hard to find local produce, including plenty of local, organic produce, without relying on a specially-organized meetup point. The closest large town to where I live has about 8K people; that's big enough for them to have a (smallish) dedicated organic/specialty grocery store, and street markets every weekend, year-round, with a few organic farms selling their produce there.
If I drive into Limoges, there are several large grocery stores that sell only organic produce, and highlight local produce.
These are all noticeably more expensive than shopping at a regular Super-U or Casino/Geant (big chains), but the selection and quality is quite good.
I'll check into the Ruche near here to see what it's like; but if it's the same farmers we can buy from directly at the weekend market, I'm not sure I see the point.
Edit: "276 Membres"... Huh -- that's significant. Oddly, the producers include a "Safranier", i.e., a saffron farmer. I didn't think that could even grow here.
I may seem not very convinced, but I do like it. Each Thursday I go and get my stuff, taste some local brewery beer and chit-chat with the producers. Oh and the bread from the bread lady is awesome. Full disclosure: My girlfriend started all the let's buy La Ruche and Marechal-Fraicheur stuff... I don't think I would have done it by myself.
Since I'm living in Paris, I have one quite close to my place, with plenty of choice. Prices are expensive compared to normal groceries, but veggies are mostly organics and the price is on par or cheaper compared to normal organic seller. The taste is great, it's better than most farmer's market and much better than the usual groceries. Can't eat that everyday because of the price though!
That time never existed. Factory farms and food processing have historically represented huge improvements in safety as well as affordability and availability. Not that this isn't a great idea, just that it's not a return to any kind of wonderful world of plenty.
Growth hormones are banned in the EU, not in the US, but many US dairy producers advertise the fact that they produce milk without using them.
Here you can actually order things.
In the case of AMAPs, the nice thing about not knowing what you'll receive in advance is that it forces you to learn a certain number of recipes so you'll be able to cook whatever you get.
Oh and it's here: https://laruchequiditoui.fr/en
The name is ringing a vague bell -- maybe there's a childrens' story about a talking hive? No idea, but a quick google didn't find the answer either, so I can't say for sure.
They're also (in my experience) buying a ton of homeopathic remedies for just about everything, which I have trouble not rolling my eyes about, but that's another subject.
For french speaking people, this video explain it: https://vimeo.com/17644285