The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Door to Door Organics

Door to Door Organics

Sustainability

May 28, 2012


Door to Door Organics partners with organic farms to bring fresh, local produce right to the customer’s doorstep. Door to Door is like an expanded CSA, offering consumers a wide range of healthy options – ranging from produce to baked goods to coffee – from a hand picked selection of farmers and producers in their region. We talked to CEO Chad Arnold about the importance of keeping people engaged and inspired in order to help motivate them to make good food decisions. 

How does Door to Door Organics work and what was the inspiration behind its creation?

Our founder started this journey in 1997 with a fresh, simple, seasonal box of organic produce. He believed that there wasn’t enough access to organic produce and set out to solve that problem as an online retailer offering home delivery. Since then, we’ve recognized that much of our food system lacks transparency and that it has grown increasingly complex for a customer to eat good, simple food. So, we expanded to a broader selection of Good Food – food that has a positive impact on our health, our communities, and the environment. Our service now includes a wide selection of the most amazing organic, local, humanely raised, and fair-trade food that we can source, available for order straight from your computer or mobile device. By building direct partnerships with farmers and food producers, we ensure the quality of our products and the integrity of the food chain. We also created planning, shopping, and cooking tools that keep food the way it should be – affordable, simple, and inspiring. In the end, our team is really mission-driven and focused on empowering people to eat Good Food in new and innovative ways.

How have you been able to merge commerce with sustainable business practices?

Sustainable business practices are core to who we are as a business. Every day, we practice what we preach by reducing, reusing and recycling throughout our four facilities in Lafayette, CO.; Chicago, Il; Livonia, MI.; and Kansas City, MO. We also use and support green energy initiatives, such as purchasing energy through wind energy programs, which will avoid 90,887 lbs of greenhouse gas emission each year in our Chicago facility alone. By focusing on very efficient delivery, with 50 to 100 deliveries per route, our business model also reduces our consumers’ trips to the grocery store, saving gas and reducing the carbon footprint of the products we sell. However, none of this is as impactful as the broader impact we can have on the food supply chain. While the consolidation of the food supply has driven down prices and created truly incredible access to unique food, it has also had some very negative impacts for suppliers and customers. If food isn’t keeping people healthy, then it’s by definition, not sustainable. By educating people and promoting clear labeling on issues like GMOs and educating around local and organic, we believe the informed buying public will make the right decisions. But there has to be an informed purchaser. If we can source great food and become a trusted source of information, then sustainability is in part about creating a profitable business that has an honest relationship with our customers. By building a business model where the supplier, the customer, the environment and our business can all achieve great things, we believe we become more sustainable. 

What are the benefits of connecting local organic farmers directly to consumers?

Local is a very important topic, but not a simple one. What’s wrapped up in the local movement goes beyond health, our community and the environment. For many people, it’s about complex issues like values, fairness, transparency and food security. So we don’t just throw a “local” icon on our business to get customers. We’re trying to ask the hard questions to determine what the impact of buying local really is, then educating customers so they can make informed decisions. For example, during the local growing season, we offer a Local Farm Box, filled with 100% locally-sourced products, a win-win for farmers and consumers. It includes information about the farms we buy from and programs to encourage people to get out to the farm. By leveraging the potential for technology to provide better information and reduce transaction costs, we’ve been able to focus on a more localized and dynamic supply chain. This gives customers better information about their food, like telling them where their food is coming from, and helps build informed demand for those products, which supports fair prices that help small farmers stay in communities. We’re not perfect at this, but we’re working hard to get it right. 

What's the future of the program? Where do you think you'll have the biggest impact?

We’re focused on empowering people to eat Good Food. For us, there is a sustainable growth plan that allows us to continue to sell more Good Food, have a growing impact on the food supply chain and ultimately keep people healthy and inspired about eating Good Food every day. And we don’t just deliver Good Food to doorsteps across the country, we also help our consumers incorporate that food into their diet by providing recipes tailored to the items ordered. So we really want to support people throughout their whole food experience of planning, shopping, cooking and creating a community around food. 

What can retailers learn from a service like Door to Door Organics?

In principal, we’re only doing what retailers already know is so important. We’re just doing it as an e-grocer. First, we focus on the customer and their experience by creating a shopping environment tailored to the individual consumer and tools that help customers turn products into meals. Second, we’re building relationships with our suppliers that create “wins” for everybody, like helping a small grower find a market eager for his goods. Third, we’re working to “get it right,” every day, backed up by our 100% guaranteed to delight promise. We believe that there is a lot of innovation left in the grocery experience. So we are building a business model that is prepared to rapidly evolve to meet the changing customer demands and development of the food supply chain. I believe we’re on the precipice of a real food revolution, and we’re excited to be a part of it.

 

In upcoming issues, we will continue to feature interviews with companies that are taking innovative steps toward the creation of sustainable products and services. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing please contact Allison Bloom at allison@foodnutritionscience.com.