WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER
When I learned about Good Eggs, an online farmers' market with operations in the Bay Area, New Orleans, New York City, and Los Angeles, I felt a rush of excitement akin to the first time I bit whole into a zucchini I'd grown from seed. That's damn good!
Good Eggs is a start-up that is working to create a more locally driven and environmentally sound food system. By responding head-on to many of the challenges that make shopping local so tricky--primarily access, affordability, and awareness--Good Eggs is enabling a wide range of customers to buy ethically produced and wholesome food through an online delivery system that's a boon to both producers and consumer.
Eager to learn more, I reached out to Lily Maltz. As a second-year intern with Good Eggs in NYC, Lily works as part of the Foodmaker team to help establish, maintain, and nourish relationships with local food producers. Talking to Lily got me excited about new ways that communities are not only reshaping their relationship to food, but also to agriculture. Especially in a city like New York, it can be difficult to feel an intimate connection with the land (having worked on a farm in Brooklyn, I understand this experience well). Good Eggs winnows the distance between producer and consumer.
How does it work exactly? As Lily shares, most of the products come in on a "just in time basis." A farmer might write in to Good Eggs, for example, with news of a fresh radish harvest. Good Eggs in turn will share this with their customers online. After customers place their orders, farmers and food makers have a middle day in between order and delivery to prepare food. This means that customers have access to fresh baked bread and seafood that has just been caught, to newly harvested carrots and ripe lettuce; a luxury that supermarkets don't always afford us. "And," adds Lily, "it contributes to low food waste because farmers only bring in the products that they need." This project is testament to the strong relationships that Good Eggs cultivates with its producers. Throughout the week, Good Eggs' staff often share in big lunches with producers. A lot can get accomplished, it's clear, when we take the time to sit down to eat and talk together.
As Good Eggs grows roots across the country, it's increasingly orienting itself towards serving as a total marketplace. This has meant that the purveyors of locally grown food are now selling certain goods--such as California-grown avocados--in Brooklyn marketplaces. As semi-controversial as this practice is, it's also a way for Good Eggs to ensure that (1) producers with whom they have developed long-term relationships are able to continue to flourish and (2) customers shopping for non-local goods can find products that are guaranteed to be grown with high environmental and ethical standards. "People are going to buy avocados anyway," Lily notes. "Why not make sure that it's from a good farm?"
As I spend my days oscillating between the hard work of being a farmer and the hard work of being a consumer (read: I have a big appetite and not a lot of money!) I find myself drawing inspiration from Good Eggs. Good Eggs makes me feel hopeful for the future of our food system. It adapts the age-old ideals of the significance of a shared table into a modern marketplace without compromising the values that underlie our varied reasons for wanting to grow, eat, seed, and sow. And that's damn good.