The sustainable food business is hot and startups are jumping into the market to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. These new services run the gamut from crowd-sourced beef to shipping container gardens, and they're making it easier than ever to ditch the grocery store. With the help of these services, you'll be extolling the merits of grass-fed beef and farm-to-table food in no time.
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1. Crowd Cow
There's nothing new about buying a cow from a local farm. The problem is that it can be difficult to find a farm nearby that specializes in grass-fed, sustainably-raised beef or to get someone to split a cow with you if you aren't ready to commit to the whole cow.
That's where Crowd Cow comes in. Crowd Cow lets food buyers bid on cuts of beef straight from the farm. Once enough people have clicked buy to "tip" the cow, customers are charged and their orders begin aging. A few days later, they are shipped directly to their doors.
As modern consumers, we're used to having fruits and vegetables available year-round. But there's an environmental cost to that convenience, and many Earth-conscious consumers try to reduce the carbon footprint of their food.
The Seasons app, available for $1.99 for iPhone, helps you figure out which produce is local and in-season so you can make more sustainable food choices.
Not all restaurants are created equal in terms of sustainability. The Noshplanet app, free for iPhone, helps you swipe your way to the most sustainable-friendly restaurants in more than 100 cities. You can even earn points that can be donated to support causes you care about.
There really is a subscription box for everyone. ButcherBox is a monthly subscription box filled with, you guessed it, sustainably-raised meat, straight from the farm.
You can choose from four different boxes, set your own delivery schedule, and even add on extras like bacon or burgers. Each box also contains recipes to get you started in the kitchen.
5. Freight Farms
Freight Farms is giving a whole new meaning to urban farming with its hydroponic gardens housed inside shipping containers. These gardens are designed to run seamlessly, and by consumers without any farming experience, and they are fully app-enabled so you can monitor the status of your garden or adjust its operation from anywhere at any time.
Of course, all of this cool technology will set you back around $85,000 but that's the price you pay for a freakin' shipping container garden.
6. Grove Garden
If you're not ready to invest in a Freight Farm, don't fret. Grove Garden is another option for city gardening that doesn't require that you sell your firstborn to finance it. Designed to fit seamlessly into your decor, Grove Gardens are self-contained gardens that handle everything from lighting to watering so you don't have to.
Like Freight Farms, they're also app-enabled to provide easy adjustments and monitoring, but since they are small enough to fit into an apartment, the price tag is also much smaller (starting at $3,500, including white glove delivery and setup, natch).
If you enjoy leaving your house and buying your food directly from farmers, you'll love the Farmstand app. Free for iPhone, or available as a website, Farmstand helps you find farmer's markets in your area and makes it easier to hit up your local market by providing hours of operation, locations, and directions.
You can also look at photos posted by community members or join the community by posting your own.
8. Seafood Watch
Seafood is known for its health benefits, but large-scale harvesting can be environmentally irresponsible. Seafood Watch, free for iOS and Android, is an app developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to help consumers make more sustainable seafood choices.
Pull it up when you buy seafood at the grocery store or when dining out to help you make sustainable seafood choices on the go.
9. Healthy Living
Want to buy better food, health and beauty products, but don't know where to start? The Environmental Working Group's Healthy Living app, free for iOS and Android, makes it easy to see how products compare.
Just scan each product and get a simple sustainability score from 1 to 10 that you can use when you're shopping. It includes toiletries and cosmetics, helping you look great without killing the Earth.
10. Farm Box
If a meat subscription box isn't for you, Farm Box has you covered. A monthly subscription box for fruits and vegetables, it brings farm-fresh produce straight to your door and takes the guesswork out of eating healthier.
Farm Box offers six different boxes that range in size and amount of organic produce, plus a selection of boxes designed for juicing.