I’d heard of Greenling for a while, the Austin-based company that delivers fresh, healthy food right to your door – most of it local and/or organic. I used to see their truck deliver to the house across the street from where I recently lived. Finally, as I started my 30-Day Locavore project, I decided to jump on board and give them a try. I made my first order last week, which was delivered today – a Local Produce box (they post a list of what is included each week) and a Farmstead box (artisinal products such as cheese, bread and sweets). I even got 20% off my first order by answering a very brief questionnaire!
Of course, I immediately set to enjoying my Greenling bounty (open a list of what was in this week’s Local Box in a jpg file), but before I get to what I cooked and ate in detail, let me share that I’m so enamored by the company and its story that I asked to interview Mason Arnold, a co-founder whose official title is “Cookie Monster.” You can find Mason’s Interview here, just below my experience with the Greenling delivery!
One of the things I love about the Greenling concept is that they provide a ton of resources on eating out of the local box, including fabulous recipes and menus, each week. You can also order anything you want a la carte with no delivery fee ($25 minimum order) – they have a mix of local foods along with grocery items, and even wine and beer! One of the things I love most about it is, unlike many CSA programs, you can order whenever you want – you don’t have to get a box every week or every other week. With my travel schedule, that is a big plus!
Keith and I got started cooking dinner with the food & recipes sent by Greenling. First was a Perfect Purslane Salad – I didn’t even know exactly what purslane was and had never cooked with it before. One of the fun things about this is the discovery, and trying something new. The salad was made with cooked potatoes, tossed with the purslane, bell pepper and salad dressing. It was a fresh, interesting take on the potato salad.
Next was the main course, Grilled Chicken Ratatouille. First, I made a mixture of basil, thyme, olive oil and a bit of salt. The recipe calls for marjoram, which I didn’t have so I substituted the thyme. I also used a wonderful lavender salt I bought from Damali Farms on Vancouver Island, Canada. I grilled sliced eggplant, onions and bell pepper, then diced them up and tossed them in a bowl along with some of the herb mixture. Then Keith rubbed more of the herb mixture over two organic chicken breasts, adding a couple of grinds of fresh pepper, and we grilled those to serve with the veggies.
Dessert was Grilled Nectarines with Blueberries – we got a lot of use out of the little countertop grill tonight! The nectarines, macerated first with sugar (and I added a bit of vanilla), were really nice warm and golden-grilled, especially when mixed with the cold blueberries. It would have been perfect if we had had a dollop of fresh cream on top, or maybe some Amy’s Mexican Vanilla ice cream, but alas, we did not. They were still delicious – the entire meal was. And lots of fun cooking the new recipes – especially with all natural, organic, fresh food!
Download a pdf of the Greenling Recipes
I made this week.
And on a side note, as I was writing this post I received a phone call from Melanie at Greenling – just checking to make sure that the delivery was to my satisfaction, if I was happy with everything I got and if I had any questions. Nice customer service!
Interview with Mason Arnold – Greenling Co-Founder & Cookie Monster
How did Greenling get started?
With a passion for Sustainability. As I dug into sustainability and how to help the movement I saw 3 big issues – energy, water, and food. But food turned out to have a dramatic effect on the other two (consumes more potable water than all other human consumption combined, more fossil fuels than anything other than driving cars). If we fix the food system, so many other things take care of themselves. So, I got together with some college friends and we designed a direct-from the-farm-to-the-door distribution model that we thought was a better way to get fresh food to people.
My current 30 Day Project, Locavore, is all about buying, eating and supporting local food. From your perspective, what is so important about doing this?
I think food security and nutrition are neck and neck for this one. Growing locally is the only way to keep fresh food accessible to everyone (transportation and processing is expensive) and studies are piling up proving this food to be more nutritious.
What do you think are the major challenges of changing the way food is consumed for future generations?
Great question! I think perhaps the cultural shift back to cooking is a major challenge. Eating a variety of foods with minimal processing is best achieved by getting back into the kitchen. But the lure of convenience has pulled us out of the kitchen. Our recipe kits are one way we’re trying to help people rediscover the joy of cooking and eating at home. They’re everything you need for a meal – veggies washed and chopped and all ingredients portioned for the meal. They feature all organic ingredients with seasonal, local veggies in most. An easy way to start cooking locally. The other major challenge is education around how broken our current system is. There still seems to be large groups of people who don’t know what has happened to our food. We’ve got to get the word out! Once you know, it’s really hard to continue in the same path.
How has the Greenling concept, and the general “eating local” concept, grown and been embraced by the Austin community since you’ve been doing this?
Amazingly. Austin already had a penchant for new and independent and local. It has been easy for people to transfer this to food. Education-focused organizations like the Sustainable Food Center and edible Austin have been primary drivers in how fast the system is building.
Anything funny, wacky, unusual or crazy that’s happened in the journey that you’d like to share?
It’s always wacky and unusual! Every day is an adventure in local food. From narrowly avoiding farmer fist fights (they don’t all get along) to incredible and unique vegetables to quirky customers, there’s never a dull moment around here.
What is something about Greenling that is perhaps less well known in the community that you would like people to know?
We don’t stress much how committed we all are to our core values. We simply don’t hire people that don’t share our passion for sustainability. Every team member is a steward and we hold each other accountable to our shared values. We count miles to the farms and ask tough questions about growing methods. We investigate everything we carry so you don’t have to.