Vending machines are often equated with junk food. Chips, candy bars, salted peanuts; in a well-stocked vending machine, you can get it all. Why are vending machines so seductive? Because they’re convenient. Put in your money, make your snack selection and go. And while we can tell ourselves that we shouldn’t be snacking, sometimes we break down and fall victim to the allure of a quick food fix.
This quick access to snack food, which can be found everywhere from corporate offices to schools, is of course detrimental to our health, exacerbating our ongoing fight with obesity. Put out processed junk food and people will eat it.
Whether or not schools should even be allowed to have vending machines has been an ongoing debate, and while completely getting rid of vending machines might not be in our immediate future, this fall new government standards take effect, at least ensuring that those machines have healthier options than in the past.
In fact, there are some companies that are focused on healthier snack options, like H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending. But while organic and all-natural snacks are still better than a bag of Doritos, they’re still snacks. What if a vending machine wasn’t a snack machine at all? What if it served you vegetables?
In Chicago, one company is taking an entirely different route to do just that: serve salad from a vending machine. It’s called Farmer’s Fridge, and it’s actually much more than a vending machine. Actually the company prefers the term “veggie machine.” A kiosk made from reclaimed wood houses the machine, which features salads made fresh daily. And not just boring lettuce and tomato salads. No, these are salads packed with nutrients and a variety of ingredients, all served in glass jars (which of course you can recycle directly at the kiosk).
If you’ve ever made a salad and left it until the next day, you know how fast they go from fresh to wilted. That’s why the salads are not only stocked every 24 hours, but also made by layering the ingredients so that they aren’t mixed until the person who wants their lunch mixes it together. If any salads don’t get sold by the end of the day, they’re donated to a local food pantry.
With the concept and a kiosk in place, what does Farmer’s Fridge need now? “Any local farmers,” founder Luke Saunders told Modern Farmer, “we would love it if they got in touch with us.” Given the Chicago winter, that might be tough, but come growing season, maybe we can hope for veggie super machines all over the place.
Photo Credit: midorisyu