Grocery Delivery + Green Guilt: My Love Affair with Fresh Direct

I just got a whole organic chicken for $1.99 a pound and didn’t have to lug it home four blocks from Whole Foods. I have organic, local Honeycrisp apples and I didn’t even have to hike to the CSA pick up. I’ve fallen in love with Fresh Direct, the NY-based grocery delivery service that just launched in Philadelphia. I’m saving time, not spending much more money, and getting to browse the market of my dreams from my iPhone.

So why do I feel bad about it?

Living in close walking proximity to Whole Foods is one of my favorite things about my neighborhood. But even knowing the store like the back of my hand, it takes more than an hour for either my husband or I to do the weekly grocery shop and lug it home on an old lady push cart.

So the prospect of having everything delivered to us was incredibly enticing. Fresh Direct offers a decent selection of organic and local foods and the delivery cost is negligible when you factor in how easy it is to find sales and sort items by price. Think about what we could do with that extra hour on the weekend – play, work, sleep? We get everything else delivered, why not groceries? They are prompt, fresh, and we get exactly what we want.

And of course for the green-guilty it’s a bit too good to be true. Because then there is the packaging.

Sure, we recycle the huge cardboard boxes. But we know they didn’t have to be used in the first place. While we usually forgo plastic bags for items like avocados and bananas, Fresh Direct bags up everything and even uses hard plastic shells for some of its produce. And they aren’t doing anything particularly wrong – they need to keep the deliveries protected from bouncing around on the back of a truck.

And, oh yeah, the truck. The fuel. I’m usually able to justify my constant Amazon and shops by thinking about how much fuel it would cost to drive to Target – the UPS truck is just driving by anyway. But I could be walking four blocks to pick this stuff up. Am I really that lazy?

Yes. Yes, I am. Well, not lazy, exactly. But busy, as all working moms are. And I think in this case I have to think about the greater good for my family.

More than an hour per week – that’s like three full days per year. Time that could be spent baking bread or playing with my son or petitioning the government to raise fuel efficiency standards. I have to believe that time is worth more than the cost of a few extra boxes broken down for the recycling bins. I just have to try to avoid these pre-packaged fruits in plastic cases…

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