Farmer's Fridge: Innovative Vending Machines For The Health Conscious
Over the years, vending machines have really changed dramatically, in part due to ever-evolving technology that makes it possible for them to break away from the norm. Even movies and television shows have poked fun at traditional vending machines for their lackluster selection (chocolate raisins just aren't a meal substitute), and their disappointing trend of taking your money without actually making your selection accessible to you. Fortunately, vending machines are much more than that, but for health food enthusiasts, most leave something to be desired. At least, that was true until now.
While modern vending machines do offer freshly prepared, cafe-like coffee beverages, and hot food warmed only when ordered, even the coolest vending machines share a major con. The food, drinks, and ingredients dispensed by the vending machines fall under the processed food umbrella. Since machines are not stocked on a daily basis, and the contents must keep for as long as possible, vending machine food is full of preservatives or items are frozen.
Even if you haven't jumped on the latest healthy eating standards bandwagon, you would have to be living under a rock to miss the fact that many Americans are focusing on eating whole foods. Meaning, items that are preservative-free (or have fewer preservatives), grain or filler-free, pesticide-free, and when possible, items that are locally produced. Of course, not everyone follows these healthy eating standards, but those that do certainly struggle to find appropriate meal options in even the most innovative modern vending machines. But who says that the convenience of vending machines, and food that meets the standards of the health-conscious are incompatible? Lo Fresco definitely wasn't willing to accept this with their healthy international vending machines.
Farmer's Fridge certainly doesn't think that should be the case either, and they've come up with a neat business idea that should meet the standards of the average American health nut. As they've stated themselves, their goal is to offer food that "tastes so good, you'll think you're eating bad". Their vending machines are stocked full of salads that are fresh, colorful, and come in a variety of combinations to suit any palate.
Not only have they incorporated healthy eating trends into a convenience model, which is the appealing part of vending machines for consumers, their packaging also follows a new trend. Salads are dispensed in mason jars with the ingredients layered to avoid cross-contamination of items that could lead to sogginess or unpleasant flavors when the salads are not eaten right away. This is a trick that has been publicized on many "life hacks" articles, and splashed all over Pinterest. Farmer's Fridge uses it proving that it is a handy trick for more than just do-it-yourself lunch packers. The other benefit of using mason jars, besides fresher ingredients is that they are eco-friendly. They can be reused or recycled, making them better for the environment than cumbersome plastic containers.
Vending machines tend to top the list of most popular business ideas with our readers, because offering more than the traditional snack fare truly requires creativity and innovation. As a society, we are also trained to appreciate things that make our lives easier, and the efficiency and convenience of vending machines is unparalleled to anything else. By eliminating one or more individuals from the preparation and sale of food items, there is limited room for error, and that gives the air of efficiency. Plus, those that hate making small talk while ordering just don't have to worry about the vending machine trying to strike up a conversation (although, who knows, there is probably one out there that does, or it won't be long until someone creates one).
The catch with the Farmer's Fridge vending machine concept is that it is less convenient for the company to maintain fresh inventory, even if the convenience to consumers is equal to that of any other vending machine. Farmer's Fridge stocks the machines by 10am daily; removing old product, and replacing it with the freshly prepared. In order to try and reduce waste, they discount the salads to $1 at 6pm daily. Whatever remains after that is then donated to the local food pantry.
In addition to salads, the rustic looking vending machine does also offer Greek yogurt and berries, and various types of jarred protein (chicken, tuna etc). So Chicago residents who have access to the first vending machine of this type should find fresh meal options to suit just about any craving or hunger pang. They also offer a local delivery detox plan that can be purchased through their website.
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