It seems every day I hear about artisan food delivery services, mostly by mail. Full Circle caught my attention because of their local delivery–a nut many have tried to crack in recent years.
There’s a reason why Straus Organic half and half, a Theo chocolate bar, and Frog Hollow granola graced my kitchen along with a whole lot of organic kale and nectarines. A few weeks ago Full Circle contacted me to announce a beta test of their organic produce and artisan food delivery service for Northern California. Well of course with the quest to fix the food distribution problem on all of our minds, I had to say yes to see what was afoot here. Plus they gave me a couple of weeks free to try it out, so it was no risk on my part.
While new to California, Full Circle has been around for 15+ years, now with 16,000 members receiving 11,000 boxes a week in Washington, Idaho and Alaska.
They source as locally as they can and want to do the same in California, which in January is easier to do than in Washington where weather limits locavores to wintery foods like root vegetables.
“That’s why we evolved to offer all kinds of organic produce,” their product manager Debra Dubief explained to me. “We feel like getting people to eat more real, organic food will help change the food system.” Last year they partnered with Eating With the Seasons, a small San Francisco bay area Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to start building their network.
How their Organic Produce Delivery Works
Each week you can check in mid-week and customize your box or make changes up to a couple of days before delivery.
As for the selection, you can choose what goes in the box, what should never go in the box, and add in artisan foods—that of course intrigued me most! With four box sizes to choose from and the ability to change your box size to meet your needs, they’ve solved many common objections for not subscribing to a traditional CSA box delivery service.
Like many great specialty retailers, they’re more of the mind that if an exceptional food product isn’t available locally, by all means bring it in. So in Washington they brought in Happy Girl Kitchen marmalade and dry farmed tomatoes—because you can’t get either of those using locally grown produce in Washington. Similarly, you can get Alaskan Wild Salmon in your California box.
How Delivery Works
You can choose the time of day and location for delivery (at night for home delivery, or daytime delivery for pick up locations) to make sure your box doesn’t sit too long.
They pack refrigerated items in metallic bubble pack bags stuffed with ice packs to keep products fresh. You just leave the packs out for pick up the following week, for re-use, as with the milk bottles.
The boxes printed with Full Circle’s design are hefty and beautiful. Unfortunately they can’t re-use them, as they maintain strict food safety standards, but they are easily composted and recyclable.
Opportunities for Artisan Food Producers and Farmers
Full Circle is also creating co-packed products where they’ll have products made either to complement the produce in season or maybe even using the produce in season. For example, Debra explained, their summer cherry salsa comes along with a cherry pitter made by a Washington company.
If you have a product made for a condiment or idea, let Full Circle know. They seem to be very nimble and creative when it comes to making good eating at home easy—all a part of their mission.
As someone who lives for farmers market day, who is not challenged with time or access to good food (being in Berkeley’s food breadbasket), I’m not the target customer. But I would heartily recommend the service to anyone who finds themselves frustrated without good food weeklong or wishes a farmers market would come to your doorstep (including that killer butter from Spring Hill Farm). In fact, a friend of mine who tried it out decided to subscribe and share her box with a friend.
I expect you’ll be hearing more from Full Circle which may have cracked the traditional CSA code: fresh, reasonably affordable, flexible, customer friendly with equally friendly customer service.
Thinking about trying organic produce delivery for yourself? Use promo code SOCIAL10 during signup and get $10 off your first box!