Farm-to-table is a phrase so ubiquitous among restaurants and eateries nowadays that it’s difficult for Millennial diners to decipher who is fully committed to fresh and local produce, and who is misusing the label. Products stamped as organic also have their drawbacks, sometimes not as healthy as expected and costing more than the average grocery shopper wants to spend at the checkout line. We asked in August 2013 what labels would make them more inclined to buy a product, and more than half would be influenced by local and all-natural call-outs compared to those labeled as organic.
The local and all-natural movement for food is evolving into the promise of freshness. Consumers are seeking out services that shrink the literal distance between farms and their own tables, focusing on seasonal offerings from local farmers as opposed to the big business of year-round, on-demand groceries funded by big agriculture. We’ve seen box subscription services like Blue Apron and Plated take off, founded on the principles of fresh food delivery and at-home meal preparation. New iterations on the fresh food experience are appealing to the Millennial palate by adding ingredients of sustainability, storytelling, and charity into the mix while keeping healthy options affordable. Here are three standouts attempting to bring farm-products and reliably healthy fare into Millennials’ homes, and to give them freshness on demand:
Cross-country fresh food delivery has been a thing of dreams—until now. FreshRealm’s patent-pending food delivery system can make it happen with a container known as the Vessel, a refrigerated box that can house produce straight from the farm and be shipped anywhere within two days using the United States Postal Service. According to the company, 40% of all food grown in the U.S. perishes before it reaches the market, so FreshRealm is tackling both environmental and sustainable causes with its system. The Vessel is reusable and strictly efficient—it can only be shipped once it is filled. Through the company’s site, “co-drops” can be coordinated to allow individual consumers ordering lower quantities of food to have their order combined with others. Millennials are aware that lots of food sold to them is processed, but realizing that “70% of the calories that Americans intake are from processed foods” is a wake up call for some, and an impetus to support modern fresh food alternatives like FreshRealm that can put virtually any farm foods into their fridge.
Borrowing its name from host-to-traveler service Couchsurfing, Kitchensurfing connects personal chefs with diners for a fine dining meal in the comfort of their own kitchen. The company first gained recognition in 2012 in an article from the New York Times titled “With a Click, a Meal, and a Story,” which praised the start-up for its peer-to-peer marketing platform and its goal to foster relationships between chefs and diners. The chefs involved are able to give context and significance to the fresh ingredients being used, especially for menus like sushi or pasta making that call for diner participation. Couchsurfing provides various local menu preparations, diner reviews, and chefs resumes on its site, and customers can even book the night before, perfect for last minute plans, dates, and forgotten anniversaries. Though the per person price may be high ($50), this type of service may appeal to older, more established Millennials who choose to splurge on fine dining and one-of-a-kind experiences that are catered specifically to their tastes. Kitchensurfing recently raised $15 million in funding to expand beyond its current cities of New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, and Berlin, and sees the future of its business in fresh prepared food with drop-offs to customers.
3. Love With Food
There is no doubt that this generation loves food, but they also love being able to give back to their community through a little hybrid activism. Love With Food makes it easy for Millennials to fund meals for those in need, donating a meal a hungry child in the U.S. for each snack box they receive. The subscription service maps each place that a box has been donated and has tallied 255,787 donated to date. Besides the company’s charitable goals, all-natural gourmet snacks are the hallmark of Love With Food. The curated boxes are a form of health food discovery, bringing products to Millennial tastemakers who either don’t have the time, energy or disposable income to frequent organic and health food stores where unique and unknown brands reside. The surprise of what will be found in each delivery is “a foodie’s dream come true” says one customer. Though other health food subscriptions exist, like Healthy Box and GoBites, each charges upwards of $25 per month for their services plus shipping and handling. Love With Food boxes start at a mere $10 per month, a price that cash-strapped Millennials can afford.