The push to buy local and eat organic has spurred on a cottage industry in Arizona.
A handful of companies in the state have jumped into the fray of home-delivery services, bringing the farm to the suburbs.
“It’s wonderful seeing change,” said Kathyrn Porter, whose Vail-based Matt’s Organic Home Delivery Service has seen an increase in business with the growing trend to buy healthy and local that started in the last few years.
When Porter started the company in 1999, “we were educators, but not so much now,” she said.
“There are definitely more and more people [going organic]. People don’t have to just go to Whole Foods or Sprouts anymore,” said Ron Paradis, president of Nature’s Garden Delivered in Phoenix.
The home-delivery services operate much like other retail online operations, with customers picking from a wide selection of fruits and vegetables that are shipped to their homes. Some of the companies have preset packages that you can order, but you can always add your own substitutions, so the options are always customizable.
Paradis said that they only buy from farmers who are certified and regulated to organic standards.
Lorenia Blancon is one of the shoppers who is looking to purchase more and more organic items. She herself works at a grocery store in Tucson, but admits that their organic selection is very limited.
“Everybody wants to buy local, but what they don’t realize is that there aren’t many organic farmers anymore,” Paradis said.
Paradis is looking to reconnect people to local farmers and says the Arizona market is slowly progressing to become more of a local and organic state.
Both Nature’s Garden and Matt’s Organic work with local farmers. Matt’s Organic even grows some of its produce on-site. They have their own chicken coop where their chickens produce eggs and their own orchard with an array of fruit and nut trees.
“People don’t know where their food is coming from [at grocery stores],” Paradis said, “but with [Nature’s Garden Delivered], they’ll know it’s local.”
Porter said that often the organic produce comes with a sticker that will say where it’s from and a tip for shoppers.
“If the number on the label starts with a 9, it’s organic. If it starts with 4, it isn’t.”
Prices start at around $30 and can run as high as $60 for the once-weekly home-delivery service in packages that can feed as few as one and as many as a family of four.
“For a lot of folks, they don’t calculate time to go shopping and they may have to drive to two or three different locations to find exactly what they’re looking for. We have what they want in one place,” Paradis said, adding that while food sits out all day at a grocery store, their items are sent out fresh.
Blancon admitted that though she is big on health, she doesn’t buy everything organic because of the high prices, but if she had to choose between stopping at a grocery store and having ingredients delivered to her door, she might choose the latter.
Porter said her company is in the process of making its website more user-friendly and adding more items like breads and different nuts to their offerings to keep up with the trends.
“There are a lot of people juicing, now, so we’ve added juices to our inventory,” she added.
Jacquelyn Montaño is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at email@example.com.