One of the biggest culinary conundrums of our time is that we want both foreign fruits and locally-grown vegetables. Luckily, there's a way to support Texas farmers while satisfying a craving for the exotic: Say hello to Greenling, a not-so-average produce and grocery delivery service.
The idea was borne from Mason Arnold who — after graduating from the University of Texas with a chemical engineering degree — found himself overwhelmed with the scale of environmental and sustainability issues.
Chief among the things keeping him up at night were energy, water and food — and food, he recognized, was at the center of everything. Feeding people requires vast amounts of potable water and fossil fuels.
"Our philosophy is about building the local food system," said Arnold.
"I started looking at how I could fix the food system," Arnold tells CultureMap, "and I saw this model working on the West Coast."
The locally-sourced produce delivery idea proved replicable: Greenling first launched in Austin eight years ago, rolled out in San Antonio in 2008 and ventured north to Dallas and Fort Worth last year. Houston is the next frontier on what the company hopes will be a national campaign.
"Our philosophy is about building the local food system," says Arnold, whose Greenling team has been visiting area farms and businesses over the past three months to select the perfect partners. In the end, Arnold says, at least 80 percent of the 1,000-plus items available through Greenling are locally-produced.
Among the Houston-area foodstuffs are artisanal baked goods from Slow Dough Bread Co., goat cheese from Blue Heron Farm, coffee from Fontana Roasters and sweets from Pat Greer's Vegan Kitchen and Sinfull Bakery.
Greenling has also forged relationships with Tejas Heritage Farm, Wood Duck Farm, Home Sweet Farm, Gundermann Acres and many more around the state to bring subscribers the freshest of organics.
Each week, subscribers can choose a "Local Box," a set selection of regional, seasonal veg, or elect to build their own basket with a selection of local- and non-local produce, dairy, meat, grocery, prepared foods and even non-food items (like household supplies and literature). The minimum order is just $25, delivery included.
Arnold says that an easy-to-use calendar-based delivery tool allows users to start or stop delivery at any time, and the cost comes in around the same price as a grocery store.
And 100 lucky customers who take advantage of the company's Houston launch and place an order on Monday will receive their groceries for free. Not a bad introduction to the Bayou City.