Social Startups

Three American Startups Out to Make Fresh Organic Food An Everyday Reality

Occupy Wall Street is not the only movement trying to fix all the wrong in America, another lesser known movement that is making a massive positive impact and is silently gaining ground in the US is the Slow Money movement.

Slow Money is advocating investing in local communities instead of Wall Street and is starting by channeling investments in local food systems. They want to use your dollars to boost local food supply, to fix the problem of food in America. Slow Money’s immediate goal is – one million Americans investing 1% of their money in local food systems, within this decade. They believe this is the path towards an economy that is healthier, fairer, more balanced, more sustainable.

At Slow Money’s national gathering in Vermont last year, over $4 million was invested in 12 small food entrepreneurs from around the country and since then an additional $5 million has flowed to dozens of small food enterprises. At the 2011 Slow Money Gathering in San Francisco last week, 30 promising food entrepreneurs were given an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to potential investors.The mix included small organic farmers, creameries, slaughterhouses, producers of organic compost to founders of small food enterprises who are creatively addressing the problem of healthy and fresh food accessibility and distribution. You can view the list of all 30 entrepreneurs here

While all 30 entrepreneurs who pitched are playing a crucial role in their communities and collectively making a big impact in getting America to eat right, there are three that I’ll like to highlight here simply because of their potential to go big and have a nation wide impact.

Stockbox Grocers: A Seattle based startup is making fresh food available near where you live by installing miniature grocery stores in your neighborhood. They are converting old shipping containers into grocery stores and placing them in parking lots nearby home, work and school. Across the U.S, a growing number of people live in food deserts, which means they don’t have access to healthy and affordable food within walking or biking distance of their home. Stockbox Grocers responds to this need with a miniature grocery that’s tucked inside a reclaimed shipping container and placed into the parking lot of an existing business. They recently raised funds on Kickstarter to pilot their first store in a low-income community in Seattle. Stockbox Grocers has ambitious plans and great potential – their aim is to build stores throughout urban communities and provide access to fresh produce and grocery staples within walking distance.

Greenling: Is a free home delivery service of organic, farm fresh produce. Greenling offers fresh, organic food for about the same price as a supermarket. Shoppers shop online from their wide variety of offerings which includes fresh vegetables, fruits, artisan cheeses, breads, meat, condiments, wines etc. Greenling’s competitive pricing and their partnership with the natural foods giant Whole Foods has led to significant spike in their business. Currently serving Austin, Texas, Greenling sources organic food from 50 local farmers. Having cracked the code for delivering fresh food, Greenling is all poised to expand into other major cities in the US and is confident that every community can benefit from their business model.

Growing Spaces: Have designed solar powered greenhouse domes, fully functional in extreme conditions, enabling families throughout the US and outside to grow their own food all year round. A Colorado based second stage growth company which initially designed the Growing Dome to be able to grow their own food in the harsh climate of Rocky Mountains, they’ve now supplied the domes to more than 1,200 clients ( many of which includes schools, corporations, community centers along with backyard gardeners) in 48 states and 11 countries. Their greenhouse domes provide an optimal environment for growing fresh, organic and nutritious vegetables, herbs and fruits throughout the year. Their domes are being used to grow food in Alaska where fresh food was non existent in winters and in Mexico in areas with no electricity. The Growing Dome has a huge potential to increase food production anywhere in the world.

The author, Deepa Chaudhary attended the Slow Money gathering in SF last week. You can reach her via Twitter

Filed under: Social Startups


Deepa Chaudhary

I have extensively worked at grass-roots from working in the slums of Mumbai to being on the frontline of numerous disaster relief efforts. I'm passionate about social entrepreneurship and I love discovering and writing about new trends in the social good space.