Greenling: Delivering Groceries Differently

August 24, 2011

A new way to deliver groceries both sustainable and local. How Greenling is getting farm fresh foods on Texan's plates.

Farm fresh, sustainable, local. These are all today’s buzzwords and the core of Greenling, a local food delivery systems business. The Lempert Report interviewed Mason Arnold, Co-founder and CEO of Greenling, known as the first and largest fresh, organic and local grocery delivery service in Central Texas. Greenling’s stated mission is to enable a future that minimizes waste and packaging while making it easier and less time consuming to buy and cook fresh, local food. Here’s what Mason had to say:
TLR: What was the inspiration for Greenling?
MA: The short answer is that I want to try to save the world. But the long answer is that I have a deep passion for sustainability. And as I researched the challenges – the biggest challenges I feel like we are facing are energy, water, and food. And as I dug a little deeper, I realized the food system impacted all three of those in a dramatic way; agriculture consumes more potable water than all other forms and more fossil fuels than every thing other than our cars driving around. So if we fix the food system, so many things take care of themselves. So we did research on how we could help and we found this model and hit the ground running. 
TLR: Can you tell us a little about what Greenling does? 
MA: On the surface, Greenling is a grocery delivery company, but what we really created here is a better and faster way to get real food right from the farm to the dinner table, and we do that through an online interface where people can order and pick and choose what they want and get farm fresh food home delivered for free. 
TLR: So you source foods, produce locally - what are the challenges? 
MA: The biggest challenges in local supply have to do with product variation, squash from one farmer can be very different from another farmer, and then each farmer has to deal with all of the elements, at least in Texas weather is very erratic. Dallas was actually determined to be the highest risk city in the nation for natural disasters – we have everything from freezes to floods to record heat waves, so weather is a really big factor and can pose a lot of risk to the local farmer and food system. 
TLR: How do you think larger “brick and mortar” stores could do this and learn from Greenling? 
MA: They could definitely learn from us. It’s not typical for a brick and mortar store to be able to implement a system like what Greenling does, and that’s why this year we actually launched a partnership with our Whole Foods locally to help expose their customers to even more local food. We think that’s kind of the best bet. Brick and mortar grocery stores can partner with companies like Greenling to better support the local food system and get more local food on the dinner table. But because we bypass the majority of the supply chain that is built into brick and mortar grocery stores, it will be difficult for larger stores to adopt something like Greenling on their own. 
TLR: How do you think our country can help tackle the obesity crisis? 
MA: I have to agree with Michael Pollan when he said most of what we eat today is edible food-like substances. It’s not actually food that we see when we go into the stores. And I think that’s the core of the problem. It’s eating real food – I think our bodies crave real nutrition, and when we don’t get that nutrition from food, we keep eating more food until we get the nutrition that we need. So to me the core of obesity and diabetes is complications with all this fake food. If we get back to eating real food, and that’s only what Greenling delivers, it will help mitigate all of these diseases. So I hope that more and more companies and retailers want to know where their food comes from and only serve real food. If we can do that and have a cultural shift and start eating real food again, that will go along way towards solving those problems.


For more information on Greenling, click here.