We all know it to be true: fruits and vegetables straight from the farm are tastier. The moment produce is harvested, the nutrients start to deteriorate which detracts not only from its taste, but also from its healthful qualities. Yes, fresher equals better when it comes to the food we eat. But how do we access farm-fresh products?
Truly farm fresh produce is extremely rare in most large supermarkets. These retailers work with a system called consignment. In simple terms, this means they receive massive amounts of goods from large producers without having to pay for items that aren't sold. This practice encourages large supermarkets to buy above demand, because they don't pay for waste. In many cases, produce is stored for extended periods of time before making it to the shelves. This effects the quality of your produce because the supermarket is forced to sell these goods until they either sell them all, or in most cases, dispose of the remainder. In fact, according to a 2006 study conducted by the USDA, 12% of all perishable ingredients get thrown away at the retail level. In other words, one in eight pineapples being sold to you one day, may be thrown out the next. There has to be a better way.
Farmer's markets are an amazing way to access farm fresh foods. If you are lucky, there is a farmers market close to your neighborhood once a week (and you should go!). Otherwise it can be a true hassle to find fresh produce in urban centers.
Enter Good Eggs. Founded in 2011, Good Eggs is an online grocery delivery service. Paige and I had the pleasure of touring their LA warehouse or warehome, as they refer to it, thanks to our friend Laurika, who works there. The first thing we noticed upon entering; there wasn't really much stuff there. There weren't piles of potatoes or giant sacks of corn. The reason for this is Good Eggs' unusual approach to sourcing. As we discussed in the case of supermarkets, large online grocers also purchase on consignment. Good Eggs does not. The vast majority of products that Good Eggs sells are harvested or produced locally to the quantity desired by online shoppers. If you order a loaf of bread from Good Eggs, a baker from a local bakery bakes it for you. If you order an apple, it is picked by a farmer, to your order and delivered to Good Eggs, which then delivers to you free of charge. So the warehouse is practically empty at 1 in the afternoon, because they send out the majority of food that they receive the same day. By using Good Eggs service, you can get produce as fresh and beautiful as if it had come from the farmer's market, delivered straight to your door.
Where a supermarket wastes an average of 12% of fresh ingredients, Good Eggs' model wastes virtually none. Any produce that is not up to Good Eggs standards is up for grabs for employees (and lucky veggie loving visitors like us) to take home. The rest of that leftover goes to their daily family meal. In the warehouse, there is a chef who cooks lunches, utilizing any scrap veggies, to create a meal for all of the employees. Laurika invited us to sit down to their family meal. It was a delicious, healthy lunch. Where a supermarket or large online grocer would either sell these not-as-fresh products to you or throw them away, Good Eggs makes a great meal of it for employees.
Good Eggs also helps to connect consumers to their local producers in order to develop consciousness about where our food comes from. They certainly have a mission beyond dollars and cents. For more information about Good Eggs go to goodeggs.com. They operate in the San Fransisco-Bay Area, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and New Orleans with plans to expand. Each branch sources from their specific region. Special thanks to Laurika Harris-Kaye for the tour!