When is "Fast Enough"?

April 20, 2015

Phil Lempert's weekly column in the lastest issue of Facts, Figures & the Future.

I'm wondering if in our desire to deliver groceries within one hour, or twenty minutes or even within ten minutes will be enough to satisfy the logistics folks at Amazon, Uber, Google Express...or our local supermarket.

In our industry's race for speed is it possible that we are destroying the enjoyment and satisfaction of the actual foods we deliver? Studies have shown that the more people photograph their food, then post on social networks like Pinterest, the less they actually enjoy eating the food. 

One could argue, much as was argued about the cost of NASA's space program, that proving we can deliver foods practically instantaneously will open the door to other innovations that we may not even realize could exist along the supply chain. Certainly using drones to deliver seems much more like a reality today then when Amazon's Jeff Bezos unveiled his plan on 60 Minutes on December 1, 2013. But is it necessary? 

My fear is that as we make instant decisions about what foods to purchase and have delivered, that the celebration, excitement of selection and enjoyment are all overshadowed by the WOW of getting it NOW. The Slow Food Movement was founded in 1989 on the premise that "we are enslaved by speed,” and that goes on to hope that "suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure (from foods) and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.”

The question is how do we balance this delivery system with how we actually consume our foods. One thing is to get our foods quickly; the other is to select, appreciate and consume them thoughtfully.