Yum! This Is The Vending Machine You Want To Have Around
Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest passion lies at the intersection of media and youth development. She is the co-founder of WishBOX Foundation, a Bulgarian NGO that helps high school students with their professional orientation by organizing events, courses, summer camps and developing digital media resources.
When you think of vending machines what comes to mind is probably processed sugar, saturated fat, and colorful plastic packaging. Chicago-based startup Farmer’s Fridge is turning this notion on its head with a kiosk (or a “veggie machine”) that dispenses healthy, fresh salads and snacks, that according to customers, rival those sold at restaurants.
Seeing that high upfront costs and convenience are the main obstacles to the distribution of healthy food, chef and founder Luke Saunders set out to prove that great tasting food can not only be good for you, but can also be easy to get in a convenient and eco-friendly way.
The way I look at it, we are not offering healthy vending machine meals. We are offering healthy, fast casual dining. It just happens to be in a vending machine. The importance of offering healthy food this way is that it makes it more accessible to people, and hopefully that helps them live a happier, healthier life.
Each salad (SPE certified) that goes into the machine is made fresh each morning in a fully licensed, shared kitchen, and delivered to the kiosk by 10 a.m. Locally sourced ingredients are layered in an airtight jar (which you can bring back and recycle, reuse, or repurpose), in such a way as to keep the veggies inside fresh and crispy.
Salads come in fun names, such as The Cheater a.k.a Guilt-Free Gluttony and Crunchy Thai Salad a.k.a Hello, Hot Stuff and in addition to them you can order sauces as well as protein sides (chicken, tuna, salmon or tofu). At the end of the day, unsold salads are donated to a local food pantry.
Customers are already raving about the service on Yelp, calling the salads "crazy-fresh, super-crunchy, and full of goodness". The few complaints are related to the price ($8 for the basic salad) and the fact that the machines often run out of salads before 2 p.m.
We like to think of our salads as a sort of edible vitamin - a delicious vitamin you eat with a fork from a jar. We research which ingredients promote the health benefits we want from each recipe, then mix and match textures and tastes until we find the salad sweet spot.
Currently, there are three machines in Chicago, and additional options for delivery and catering. Farmer's Fridge is also looking for more local farmers to work with.
Can we, please, have these machines in every school and airport?
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- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
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