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Today: Our new partnership with Good Eggs, an online marketplace for local groceries, is live on their site today! We've bundled some of our favorite kitchen and table products with local foods from their producers (think fresh farm butter paired with a ceramic butter keeper) for gifts that will keep on giving. In honor of the occasion, we wanted to tell the world why we love this company.
Nellen Dryden sorts kale for deliveries in New York.
When you live in New York city, an astounding variety of consumer goods will be delivered to the semi-comfort of your shoebox apartment in no time. Hot dan dan noodles? 30 minutes. Clean, folded laundry that's actually still warm? See you in 5. You can even get supermarket groceries by mail.
If you're anything like me, however, this last service ventures into tricky territory. First of all, I like selecting my own ingredients to make sure that I don't end up with bruised pears or brown greens. And then, what about quality? Do I really want hothouse tomatoes from across the country and shrimp from Thailand for dinner? It all feels very impersonal, a little bit like a food vending machine. When you're flying in food from around the world, it's not just damaging to the environment—picked young and ripened in transit, that unnecessarily exotic produce is also the opposite of fresh.
Darren Yondorf, of the Bay Area team, sorts products as they're received from local producers.
But let's clarify something: I'm not the sort who peruses the farmers market every morning, scooping up only the reddest strawberries and chatting with the good people who raise pigs for my pork chops. When I can, yes absolutely, but fresh and local everyday, for every dinner? If only the stars would align.
The solution for someone like me, who would absolutely prefer to shake my farmer's hand and eat local radishes everyday, but who also shops at bodegas because they're so damn convenient, is Good Eggs, a Bay Area company that brings the farmer's market to your doorstep. On the Good Eggs website, you can choose from high-quality, locally-produced groceries—everything from fresh vegetables to small batch potato chips, and every fish in the (nearby) sea. They even take it a step further by profiling each farmer and producer, so I can see who butchered that pork chop and raised the hens that laid my eggs.
Placing an order is almost too easy. As well organized as the aisles of a specialty grocery, the products on Good Eggs are photographed individually (and attractively), so you can hardly help racking up a whole cartful. I added and subtracted, trying to keep from buying everything, and ended up with breakfast: maple jalapeño sausage, peppers, fruit, and a dozen brown eggs. Proceeding to checkout, not passing go nor collecting $200, I faced my first obstacle: I don't live in Brooklyn.
Each product is tested for quality.
I asked Greta Caruso, one of the founders of Good Eggs, about the decision to sidestep Manhattanites. "When we first explored a launch in New York, we received an overwhelming number of requests from Brooklyn zip codes," she said, "We also realized that many of our favorite producers had kitchens and production facilities based in Brooklyn, so it seemed like a natural first step." In the face of such sound decisiveness, I could hardly stay sad (plus, she mentioned their plans to expand to Manhattan later this year). This attention to real people is at the heart of Good Eggs' simple mission, which is not just to get local food in the hands of lazy folk like me, but also "to grow and sustain local food systems worldwide."
Long before Good Eggs, Greta worked on a farm in Massachusetts and noticed how shoppers at the farmers market would complain about the prices—say, $3 for a bunch of kale. "I'd think, Do you have any idea what this takes? That's a good price!," she laughs, "It was clear that there was this epic disconnect about what the cost of food should be and what it is." Good Eggs is working to close that divide, by bringing better food to more people, and educating about all the moving parts and people involved in getting it there.
Each community that Good Eggs serves—the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and New Orleans—works under a different set of logistics particular to the demands and conditions of the region. If you've ever tried to be strict about eating local, you know that some kitchen staples (like lemons, olive oil coffee, and maple syrup) aren't made everywhere. With the home cook in mind, Good Eggs stocks a very few carefully-selected items on their site that can be shipped in from responsible producers a little farther away; you can still see where the product is coming from and choose whether to include it in your order.
Katherin Son, of the Good Eggs New York team, shows off a favorite customer review.
I went on to place my order, sending it as a "gift" to my boyfriend's office in Brooklyn (a lucky save); it was hand-delivered on time, with the sausage and wedge of cheddar in a cold pack that kept them chilled into the evening. When we unpacked it later, the note I'd written as an afterthought on the order—"breakfast for tomorrow"—had been handwritten by a Good Eggs employee in a coy script, to my boyfriend from me, a decidedly romantic touch that I hadn't even intended but, ahem, REALLY appreciated.
It seemed so simple, just a few clicks and boom—local, beautiful ingredients (the apples were pristine, and the eggs had a feather in the box) for a lovers' breakfast at your door. But if you stop and think about everything that has to go right to get individual vegetables harvested from a number of farms, packed in the same bag, and delivered to a consumer in two days' time...it's something like magic. In Greta's words, the process is "definitely an intricate logistical dance," but they've got a few aces up their sleeves. One of the first projects the Good Eggs team worked on was a software that Greta says "makes it easy for local farmers and foodmakers to monitor their products and orders in the Good Eggs marketplace," and then there's something called a "food hub."
Bags are loaded up for delivery at the Good Eggs food hub in New York.
"In Good Eggs land," Greta begins, "the food hub is the 'warehome,' where producers deliver goods for us to pack and send out for delivery. It also doubles as our office, so we all work and eat together in the same space every day." I'm too distracted by the phrases "Good Eggs land" and "warehome" to imagine anything other than a fantasy from a foodie's fairy tale, and Greta says nothing to dispel my reverie.
Greta works on the Foodmaker Team in Good Eggs land. They "work closely with all of our farmers and food makers, finding them, getting them on the site, and helping them." I love this idea, that there's such a focus on person-to-person collaboration, and that it results in savvier farmers, better produce, and a more efficient system for getting it to local consumers. "It's really business consulting," Greta says, "since we only succeed if they succeed."