Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (!) for a family of 3


We’ve partnered with Vancouver’s own Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (!) to bring you some of the finer points of using this fantastic service to get your groceries. What this means is that over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing the experience from a couple of different angles: that of my small family of 3 using it and also from a single professional’s (Christine McAvoy) perspective.

So first things first: what is In a nutshell it’s a company that was started in Vancouver in 1997 based on the idea that there was simply a better, more sustainable way to buy groceries. Up until recently I thought they were mostly an “organics box” company but was quite thrilled to learn that while they do offer that service (in the form of their Fresh Harvest Box) they’re a one stop shop for everything groceries. Everything good groceries, that is: local, organic, healthy and sustainable products are what you’ll find on their digital shelves, to be delivered to your door at their peak of freshness.

When we first started planning for this, for my first post I was thinking it would be cool to walk you through the experience of signing up and shopping online but, honestly, it’s so simple and intuitive that we’ll skip that part. You’re not stupid; you know how to shop online and suffice it to say that their online shopping experience is second-to-none. You can visit the site for yourself HERE and take 10 seconds (literally) to sign up and then poke around a little bit for yourself. Meanwhile let me shoot a photo of what arrived on our first week.

And here it is, below! $130.91 worth of groceries for the week, laid out nicely under a retro-fitted antique globe lamp that my wife constructed, making a semi-obvious statement about global warming and how shopping with is the sustainable way to go. She didn’t build it to use in this post but when we set this stuff out on the table for the photo it became apparent that there was a melting polar ice cap metaphor lurking just below the surface so I figured I’d draw your attention to it.

Here’s how the groceries arrived before we laid them out all nice-like. The way it works is that you click through their site and put together an order each week and then it gets delivered on a scheduled day. The delivery to our postal code in The Village on False Creek is scheduled for each Wednesday, so we’re planning our meals a few days ahead of time and having fun with it. You can also choose to create a Standing Order which is the same stuff every week sent automatically, in case there are a few regular items that you want to make sure you receive when you don’t put in a full order on any given week.

All of your groceries are packed neatly inside the reusable bins that they take back each week, some with specially designed ice packs, dry-ice and freezer bags, and all of which you leave in the bin for recycling/reuse. You can also return your bottles in the box (that Gerolsteiner bottle and the smaller drink bottles will be making a return trip next week!).

Their prices are the same as in-store prices for groceries, plus there’s no delivery fee. Combine that with loads of weekly specials (just like a regular grocery store) and you’re looking at a good deal. Here are the items in our order this week that were on special:

$5.49 –> $4.49 Annie’s cheddar snacks
$4.69 –> $3.99 Organic Emerald Valley 3 bean dip
$2.99 –> $1.99 Hi-Ball energy juice
$1.50 –> $1.35 Clif Bars
$5.99 –> $4.99 Grapes
$7.47 –> $5.97 Fingerling potatoes
$8.59 –> $6.99 Nature’s Path Heritage O’s cereal

We saved $6.95 and it wasn’t even on purpose; this stuff just happened to be what we needed and was also on special. Sharing the savings (and the fact that there were savings) was an afterthought for me.

So this week’s groceries cost $130.91. But how much did they cost the earth? Not as much as a regular trip to the grocery store, that much is certain. As you confirm each order online they even provide you with an Eco-Audit to let you know exactly how much your “environmental savings” were for your order. We saved 4kg of carbon on this one. Avoiding a trip in the car, not worrying about energy used in actual retail stores to keep your food unspoiled, reduced food waste based on SPUD not buying more produce than they can sell, buying more local (there’s a handy “food miles” number for each item that you can view as your shopping which shows how far the product traveled to their warehouse) and the 22 cent fee we paid for carbon offsetting made it a win for for us and for our environment.

Poke around for yourself and stay tuned for the next post on Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery dropping next week.