It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Eat Local First – both of their message to support local producers and businesses and of their initiatives, such as making it easier for consumers to identify locally-grown and -made products at some grocery stores. As such, I was interested to learn more about their most recent enterprise – The Good Food Box – a project that seeks to widen access to local products.
A sample Good Food Box
Targeting those who would like to support area farmers and businesses, but are perhaps short on time, the Good Food Box offers a variety of produce, dairy, meat, seafood, grains, prepared foods, baked goods, beverages and sweets for biweekly home delivery or pick-up (the online/phone order desk is open from Monday-Saturday, with products to be delivered the following Thursday/Friday). As Liane Faulder noted earlier this year, products are marked up to ensure the program’s sustainability, but the business is set up as a social enterprise, which means some profit works its way back into the community (at the moment, clients of the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers are the beneficiaries of 1% of the revenue, in the form of food baskets).
I think the Good Food Box is a great idea, and though they don’t deliver to our neighbourhood yet (a little curious since our street is home to the City Market during the warmer months, where one would assume interest would be ripe), my preference is still to buy directly from producers when possible so I am able to connect with them in person. Moreover, though I do plan meals in advance, ordering from the Box would mean having to think two weeks ahead – too far for what I am used to.
That said – it is a great option for those who aren’t able to get one of the few year-round markets open during the winter, or, in some cases, access products that aren’t available anywhere else.
The latter was the case for us this past week, wanting to incorporate, among other things, MoNa mushrooms into our housewarming party menu. And since we were able to travel to the Live Local warehouse on Thursday, we thought we’d give ordering a Good Food Box a shot.
The online order desk isn’t the most seamless website, but I found it easiest to click on the “all product list” to scan and select from. Though we ended up with a loaf of honey whole wheat from Prairie Mill, a bunch of gai lan and garlic from Peas on Earth, and cremini and shiitake mushrooms from MoNa, somehow, I expected a greater product variety from some vendors (such as more yogurt flavours from Bles-Wold). It’s also worth noting that none of the products were priced any higher than what I was used to paying at the farmers’ market – the bread was $5.75; the gai lan were $4; the pound of shiitakes were $10 – it made Mack and I both wonder how the Good Food Box was making money at all.
On Thursday evening, we had a heck of a time finding the Live Local warehouse at 5032 129 Avenue (for the record, it’s located at the end of the road in-between Queen Donair and the Salvation Army), but did reach it before it closed. It’s a non-descript storefront, but thankfully, had a Live Local-decaled vehicle parked out front.
Josh, the Project Manager of the Good Food Box, was kind enough to give us a tour while we were there. The highlight was definitely the walk-in cold storage, stacked with coolers ready to be delivered the next day (he said that right now, 150-200 orders are placed on average per week).
Full of good food
Along the perimeter of the cooler were bags of orders yet to be picked up that day, as well as some loose produce that didn’t make it into the week’s orders.
Fruit from Steve & Dan’s
Between the baskets and the storage space, it seemed that the warehouse could almost function as a retail shop (which would, of course, require some much more complicated logistics). Josh replied that this wasn’t the model they were operating in, though they realize the fact that because of the one week delay, they aren’t able to offer the “instant gratification” that a store would. Josh also said that they are working on developing a next-day delivery system to help encourage even more business.
Live Local First administrative area
Thanks again to Josh for the tour, and best of luck to the Good Food Box in the future!
Good Food Box
Order desk open from Monday at noon to midnight on Saturday
Delivery to select postal codes for a fee, or pick up at 5032 129 Avenue