I had the chance to try out and review Spud! Local and Organic Delivery this past week. After reviewing Whole Foods in order to have something to compare Spud with, I had high hopes for the delivery service, but mixed results in the end. But more on that later.
Spud (short for Small Potatoes Urban Delivery) was dreamed up in 1995 by a sustainability business consultant determined to correct the imbalance between large scale and independent farming through alternative retail methods, i.e. direct home delivery. This method generates 80% less food waste, creating direct connections between food suppliers and customers, and reduces grocery store car trips saving people time and reducing carbon emissions. Spud claims to be North America’s greenest grocer, through buying local, buying organic, and being completely, 100% carbon neutral.
The site itself is kind of amazing. It calculates how far away every item you order comes from. You have the choice to order only locally sourced items, meaning they are grown or made within 500 miles of your zip code. Your order submission page tells you exactly how much greenhouse gas emissions you save by placing your order through Spud as well as other eco-savings, such as the amount of food waste that is reduced, how many pages of grocery store fliers were not printed, how many bags were avoided by using Spud’s reusable delivery bins, and how many kilowatt hours of building energy has been saved.
This, in my opinion is the best part of Spud’s delivery service, the information you are given about the products you are consuming. You know where they come from. You know what your impact is. It’s given to you, in numbers, explained simply yet effectively. The site also provides visitors with a wealth of information, from green tips of the week to the chance to chat with Spud representatives online with any questions you might have.
Price wise, in a comparison between Spud, Whole Foods and PCC, Spud comes out a full 9% cheaper than Whole Foods and 10% cheaper than PCC on fruit and vegetables. Delivery is also free if your order total exceeds $43. All these numbers make Spud look pretty good compared to other natural groceries.
That being set, I experienced a few setbacks with my Spud delivery. Firstly, deliveries are only once a week in my area. This isn’t a problem so long as you plan out your meals ahead of time. But for even the most organized and well meaning of shoppers, there are some days when you realize you need something then and there. In such cases, Spud isn’t the solution.
Secondly, the selection is a bit limited. This is entirely excusable because so much is locally sourced. But compared to Whole Foods, where a consumer is all but overwhelmed by the choices available, Spud is on a different level entirely. Spud has what you need, but perhaps not the brand you prefer. It’s got all the basics though, and really if there is something they don’t have, chances are you can survive without it.
Thirdly, and most importantly, when I received my delivery, an item that I had been charged for was not in my delivery box. Luckily, after sending a short email message to customer service via the website, I was immediately credited the amount of the product towards my next purchase. So while there was a mishap in the delivery of my order, Spud was quick on its feet to apologize and set me on my way towards my next purchase.
All in all, I really like Spud. It tells us more about our consumption habits than we ever thought we as mere consumers could know. While it isn’t the end all, be all of groceries, I think that using Spud for basic supplies, like fruit and vegetables, even baked goods, is a great idea. Just remember to plan ahead and be patient.