Restaurateurs, chefs, and policymakers reflect on their experiences at the epicenter of the pandemic.
May 28, 2013
For the last few years, we’ve seen dozens of apps, Web stores, and online delivery services aiming to serve a single mission: Making local, responsibly-produced food more accessible and convenient. From farmers’ market finders to sustainability ratings, technology has proven to be a vast, unchartered playing ground for practical answers in the growing good food-aware consumer base. But the challenges–depending on the areas of distribution–are almost as diverse as the offerings that can be brought by these tools. Tackling one city at a time, the San Francisco-based company Good Eggs is placing its eggs on its software model for its newest target: Brooklyn.
“The food community’s enthusiasm is as high as it can be anywhere,” said Josh Morganthau, the Community Lead for Good Eggs in Brooklyn. He explained that as soon as Good Eggs launched in San Francisco, it set up a forum on its Web site where customers could request Good Eggs in its region. The majority of eager responses from folks commenting from outside the Bay Area were from Brooklyn.
Similar to Etsy and hopeful of competing with FreshDirect, Good Eggs is an online hub featuring numerous “webstands” from food producers in a specific geographical region. The company curates this list of local producers for each city by approving of applications and seeking out those based on their seasonal and sustainable-minded approaches to making food. Once a business is deemed a “good egg,” they can set their own parameters for prices, offerings, and delivery options. Good Eggs in turns offers them user-friendly software to organize and manage the flow of sales.
The model serves as an extra point-of-sale for producers who are already making local drop-offs in their city. “There’s a long list of businesses who can jump in and use the Web stands right away,” said Morganthau. “Once we open up the distribution, it’ll open it up to a lot more producers.”
That’s right, Good Eggs is planning to warehouse and distribute its community of producers’ offerings itself in Brooklyn soon. The distribution arm of Good Eggs has recently been launched in the Bay Area as of this spring, allowing customers to order from multiple Web stands at a time and get their delivery all together. Good Eggs is hoping to replicate the distribution aspect of its business in Brooklyn by mid-summer of this year.
“We’re getting warehouse space and vehicles to dive into it,” said Morganthau.
In addition to his new responsibilities to accomplish this quest, Morganthau is the proud manager of a Good Eggs Web stand himself–that of his family’s farm. As the third generation heir to Fishkill Farms, in Fishkill, New York, Morganthau returned to his family business after getting a degree in fine arts at Yale. There, he helps maintain its sustainable growing practices as well as its reach to New York City-dwellers, distributing to restaurants and setting up camp at Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens greenmarket on Sundays.
Despite the high enthusiasm for locally-produced food in Brooklyn, the principals at Good Eggs are faced with challenges and competition in its new landscape. Real estate is costly, making local inventory-keeping a steeper investment, and the glut of traffic can slow down an economy based on one-click, instant gratification. And several other subscription-based or simply digital-based local food services have been spawned in New York City in the last few months. But Good Eggs is hopeful that the values of eating well and from one’s own neighbors will outweigh what convenience factors that they can offer to begin with.
“We’ll be featuring Liddabit Sweets and Provenance Meals soon and NYC Farm Chic Flowers is able to do a 100 percent local bouquet of flowers, delivered to you the next day,” said Morganthau, excitedly sharing some upcoming Brooklyn-based webstands. As of now, even without the distribution help that Good Eggs plans to provide their producers, the opportunity to sell through its site is “stimulating the local food economy,” he said.
And while most, if not all, of the Brooklyn-based producers currently selling their wares through Good Eggs also deliver to Manhattan and sometimes Queens, Brooklyn’s prescience as the headquarters for the mission is two-fold: More customers seek it there, and more producers are based there.
“We’re looking into commercial space in Greenpoint and Manhattan,” said Morganthau of the as-yet-determined storage hub for its producers. “That’s where so much of the exciting food production is happening and there’s more commercial warehouse space here anyway.”
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