Why You Don't Want a Meal Kit that Costs $5

The hidden costs of eating fast, easy and cheap, and how chipping in a few extra bucks rewards you with more than you may realize.

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In America, we're always looking for a good deal. Our lifestyle is often whatever comes fast, easy and cheap - whether that be taking advantage of a clearance sale, using the elevator to skip a few flights of stairs, or buying a coffee on the way to a destination rather than brewing it at home. We do this with food all the time: pizza delivery, microwaveable freezer meals and 3-minute ramen are just a few success stories of the fast food culture. They're also just a few examples of the highly-processed options that dominate the grocery store shelves and our dinner plates these days, widely understood as one of the main culprits to our nation's obesity epidemic and diet-related chronic diseases.

When it comes to food, the notion even goes so far to assume that healthful, wholesome food is expensive, complicated and time-consuming... and therefore unattainable. While it's true that food with integrity - that is, sustainably-made, responsibly-sourced, environmentally-friendly - may cost you a little extra, it doesn't mean that it's not money well spent. The dollar is a powerful vote, and when put in the right hands can push the market into promoting options that are better for you, the producers, and the planet. Besides, is waiting in line for a $5 coffee worth not having to turn on the coffee pot at home? Is the 45 minutes it takes for takeout to be ready not more than enough time to prepare an affordable, well-balanced meal in your own kitchen?

Convenience doesn't have to be the bad guy when it comes to food. In fact, it's a factor that's not only desirable, but mandatory, for busy people who want to eat and entertain well on top of full-time jobs and various other responsibilities and tasks in life. PeachDish is unique in that makes it possible to cook, eat and serve good food while supporting small farmers and artisans, ranchers, fishermen and even artists - with the added convenience of it being delivered right to your doorstep. The ingredients in our meal kits are seasonal and local to us as possible, and therefore fresher, more flavorful and more nutrient-dense than what you'll often find in any leading grocery store. How do you know we're not all bark and no bite? The proof is in the President's Letter, which is a, up-to-date list of all the suppliers that have contributed to your meal kits and arrives tucked neatly into every delivery. Most recipes take about half an hour to prepare (quicker than most pizza delivery these days), and are approachable yet interesting enough to make both novices and seasoned home cooks happy. By tying transparency and responsible sourcing into food and fast-paced lifestyle, we create a system that benefits the eater, the community and the planet - and while it may not be $5 a pop, it certainly cuts the hidden costs of convenience that lie behind the pricetag:

Mary of Decimal Place Farm

The Cost to the Community

The farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, the creameries, jam-makers, and pickle and hot sauce artisans—these are the unsung heroes of feeding the community. Unfortunately, not only do they go unrecognized, but many are underpaid, especially when you count the costs of massive investment in land, equipment, seed, feed and more they need to start and maintain their business. For farmers just starting out, that can add up to hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in capital, and the reality is that an average wage of somewhere around $20,000 to $40,000 per year (sometimes higher for those who have been at it for more than a few decades) just doesn't cut it. Low market prices driven by corporate, foreign-owned farms and consumer demand - eating cheap, fast and easy - threatens the livelihood of small farmers, which is ironic considering that they produce food to support your livelihood.

Buying locally grown foods, meats and goods may cost you an extra trip to the farmers market every week or so, and you may expect to pay a few extra dollars for things like carrots, ground beef, or strawberry jam than you would at the supermarket. However, it's well worth it to put extra dollars directly into the hands of the people who carefully washed and harvested your radishes, cranked and milled your grain or milked the goats and made your chevre with care. The opportunity to meet your farmer is golden. Making a friend with one? That's priceless.

The Cost to the Planet

Knowing your farmer has the added benefit of knowing his or her growing practices. Are they using sustainable techniques such as crop rotation and cover crops to promote soil health and curb pests naturally? Are they conserving water using carefully planned irrigation systems or collecting rainwater? Are their pigs free to forage, their chickens free-range and cattle grass-fed? These and so much more affect not only the quality of the food that's produced, but the environment it's produced on.

Acting as stewards of the earth, small-scale farmers know that the dirt they plant and harvest from - the Earth we live on - is the only place we've got, and that we have no choice but to make the most of our home without wasting or trashing it. Carefully selecting produce, meats and other goods from sustainable suppliers - like PeachDish - means getting food that you can feel good about.

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The Cost to Your Health

It's just plain common sense that the cheap foods that come from a drive thru window or a vending machine probably aren't made or consumed with our health in mind. Typically highly processed and more dense in salt and sugar than actual nutrients, they leave you unsatisfied and prone to overeating. Many ingredient lists reveal artificial colors and preservatives and other questionable materials that may do your body (and the environment) more harm than good.

Even whole foods you find in the produce section or meat department of your grocery store - and in the less-than-transparent meal kits on the market - may not be as squeaky clean as you think. Without sourcing transparency, you have no idea how far that organic apple had to travel before it was packed and shipped to your home, how long ago it was that carrot harvested before it made it to your fridge, or if the chicken that laid your eggs was truly "cage-free". These small but important details make a substantial difference in the flavor and nutritional quality of an ingredient and to the final dish it's used to create.

Occasionally you'll find pre-chopped produce stocked in supermarket shelves, and even as portioned ingredients in some meal kits. Although a time-saver, these fruits and veggies are at a higher disadvantage than their whole counterparts; having more surface area means getting more exposure to air, moisture and packaging, which makes them prone not only to a significant loss in flavor and nutrients, but also to bacterial contamination. Produce that comes to you already sliced, cubed, and shredded is a good indicator that, between its journey from farm to processing facility to packaging to store shelf, your "fresh" ingredients have traveled far, passed through a lot more hands and taken a lot more time to make it to your dinner plate than you might think. We'll take a few minutes to mince our garlic and chop our lettuce over any of that, any day - which is why your PeachDish meal kits will never contain pre-cut produce.

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With the help of local and regional farmers, we’re able to source organic and sustainably grown produce for our dishes; modifying recipes for seasonal availability so that ingredients are at the peak of ripeness and therefore at the peak of taste and nutritional quality. Today, a farmer can drop off produce at the PeachDish warehouse Monday morning and it’s packed to go out to your doorstep that afternoon. That means you get the freshest and most flavorful food - and no funny business. It's how it should be.

At PeachDish, transparency is one of our core values, which is why we have no problem stating upfront that yes, our meal kits do cost a few more dollars per serving than others. It's not $5 per serving - it's more than twice that. And that's okay, because we're proud to say that you can rest easy knowing that your well-earned dollars are going toward enjoying food with integrity. That means you can expect only the highest quality ingredients we can find in your meal kit, grown and harvested locally with care, raised humanely with love, and handmade, cured, preserved, and packed with pride. We know this to be true because we know the farmers, ranchers, fishermen and artisans personally (and how can we not? Many of them visit our warehouse to drop of their goods weekly!). Furthermore, your support helps us to promote the artists, chefs and food writers in innovative ways in our local community, like through peach-themed postcards or Guest Chef features.

What does all of this add up to? A delicious, homemade, and yes, convenient, meal that you can feel good about. And that's worth way more than 5 bucks.

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