Hungry? Stop by the vending machine and grab a…salad?
A new “kiosk” vending machine has surfaced in a Chicago food court that sells jars of fresh salads and snacks, offering patrons a healthy alternative to the quick and easy fast food chains. Farmer’s Fridge, sitting in the middle of its neighbors McDonalds and Dunkin Doughnuts, offers an array of salads, veggies and humus, fresh fruit, wraps, and more made fresh daily for under $10, according to their website.
Entrepreneur Luke Saunders founded Farmer’s Fridge with the idea of making healthy food as easily accessible as junk food at an affordable price, in a low-income area in downtown Chicago.
The goal is “to turn a vending machine into a veggie machine,” according to the company’s website.
All salads and snacks are made fresh daily with nutrient-packed ingredients and delivered to the vending machine. Salads start at $8, with weekly specials knocking off a couple bucks. After 6 p.m., salads are discounted as low as $1.
Salads and snacks are made from local and organic ingredients. The packaging, down to the lids and utensils, are all recyclable and biodegradable, making Farmer’s Fridge good for the body as well as the environment.
The concept is great, the menu is irresistible, and the benefits are uncanny. So why haven’t more “veggie machines” been popping up?
We are living in a time where obesity continues to be a leading public health problem in the United States. About 68.5 percent of adults and 31 percent of children are either overweight or obese, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
With the body mass index highest among adults in the lowest income group and the lowest education group, these families do not have the resources to afford what Farmer’s Fridge has to offer.
You can bet your bottom dollar that low-income families would rather stop by McDonalds and grab four burgers, some fries and cokes for $10 than fork up the dough for some organic leaves in a biodegradable jar. Unless they wait until after 6 p.m. to take advantage of the price reduction on these salads.
Why go through the hassle of taking a trip to the grocery store and spending $50 on ingredients to make a home-cooked meal for your family when you can take a trip through the drive-thru of your favorite fast-food chain and scarf down a greasy cheeseburger before you even step foot in your house? Fast food is just that, it’s fast food that is affordable.
These “veggie machines” are competing with many fast food restaurants that now offer healthy alternatives; at McDonalds you can get a salad for under $5 or substitute your French fries for apple slices. Now it may not be as fresh or nutritious as Farmer’s Fridge but if it saves you a couple bucks and comes with a toy, that sounds like a deal.
Implementing these “veggie machines” in other low-income cities may be a hip, new concept that will attract attention, but spending $50 bucks a month on lunch a week will get old, and quickly. As long as McDonalds and other fast food chains are around, Americans will be living in the fast lane, only slowing down for the drive-thru.