I read an interesting article recently by Brian Barth at Modern Farmer. The article was about “meal-kits,” the primary example of which is Blue Apron, a service started by, among others, a former chef at the Ur-Foodie restaurant Chez Panisse.
The idea behind Blue Apron and similar operations is that you will receive all of the ingredients for a meal, with detailed instructions on how to prepare everything, without the burden of going to the grocery. I have been skeptical, and it’s still not something I would do, but Barth’s article gave me a different perspective. I didn’t realize that some, if not most, of these companies are sourcing their ingredients from small, local farms.
I am not a hippy, and I do not believe that we can solve the world’s problems if we all go “back to the land.” Large-scale farming makes it possible for us to eat a more varied and nutritious diet than at just about any time in human history. That is, if we want to.
Because for all of the abundance that modern agriculture gives us, a lot of people still don’t have access to fresh produce, or simply prefer to eat prepared foods. To the extent that you decide to order a fast-food pizza instead of cooking because you don’t have the time to shop for ingredients, cook and then clean your kitchen, maybe services like Blue Apron can help.
I tend to shop at my local Rouse’s several times a week. I simply don’t have the sort of mind that’s capable of planning meals for a week, and shopping accordingly. When I’ve tried to do that, I’ve ended up with a lot of unused meat and produce. But I recognize that I’m very fortunate, in that one of my local Rouse’s is three minutes from my office, and only 10 from my home. I spend a lot of lunch hours there, and while that means I don’t get to actually eat lunch, I do get to cook something for my family when I get home.
And what I get to cook is what looks good, or what I feel like making, or what I know my kids will eat. It’s not pre-ordained, and I’ve had the opportunity to select everything that’s going into the meal. I am jealous of people who can menu-plan a week or more in advance. I would love to be able to do that, but apart from staples like milk, eggs, butter, chicken hearts and bread, I can’t say from one day to the next what my kids will eat, let alone what I’ll feel like cooking.
I’m curious, though, and would appreciate your comments and/or emails: how often do you shop for groceries? Because I am starting to wonder whether it is normal for me to recognize all of the people who work at the three Rouse’s I regularly visit, and I am also starting to wonder whether those same people think, “that guy shops here too much.”
I am also curious whether you have used a service like Blue Apron, and if so, why, and whether you liked it? I’d love to follow up on this post with some comments, so please let me know your thoughts.