Butcher Box, Misfits Market, and Food Delivered in a Box

Christopher Bradley

Christopher Bradley

Christopher is a lawyer from NEPA, aka, Pennsultucky, He is an avid baseball fan, audiophile, and dog owner. He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and daughters, reading, listening to music, watching baseball (except the Yankees) and writing. If you wish to send him a positive missive, any errata concerning albums, or requests regarding albums: saturdayspins32 at gmail dot com

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My main experience of Blue Apron was by proxy. I didn’t get it but a friend of mine did (this is one of the younger Gen-Y, older Millennials). He didn’t really know how to cook when he got married and neither did his wife. They were both still somewhere around the “put the frozen lasagna in the oven” level cooking skills and would have preferred to stop someplace on the way home to figuring out the whole “using the burners” thing.

    Well, they went from being newlyweds who were renting to… what’s the term for people who had been married for 4-5 years? Well, they got a house and a really nice kitchen. And he subscribed to Blue Apron in an effort to start saving money from eating out all the time.

    I’ll be darned if he didn’t learn to cook. He got all of the ingredients neatly pre-measured out for him, he just had to learn to do stuff like light ingredient prep (he had to watch youtubes to figure out how to julienne peppers, for example) and mastered everything from making rice in a saucepan (something that I still have trouble with!) to making a roux.

    He doesn’t get Blue Apron anymore. He doesn’t need to. But, during the time he got it? It got him over the hump.Report

  2. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    I’ve been doing Imperfect Foods (after Burt Likko’s recommendation of it). I guess it’s similar to Misfits in that it centers around surplus or “cosmetically imperfect” produce. But they also sell meat. And two of the big things that frustrated me in this whole thing is….getting fresh food. And also supply chain issues. (And just dealing with fellow humans; I live in a place where a critical mass don’t seem to believe in masks or social distancing)

    I have been quite happy with Imperfect. One week they forgot the chicken breasts I ordered and are supposed to charge-back for that (have not received the card statement yet so I’ll check when it did). But I find I can get better quality meat than locally, and get it for a competitive price, and NOT HAVE TO GO OUT AND SHOP FOR IT.

    I’ve been getting “sliced beef” that was apparently destined for something like Blue Apron and was surplus, and it was very good indeed – did fajitas with one batch, did teriyaki with the most recent batch.

    I’ve not done Blue Apron or the like because I already know how to cook and I prefer to decide “okay, what am I going to make using this central ingredient” (and maybe change my mind before I start the cooking process) and also I have some slightly bizarre food intolerances (and one or two outright allergies) and so any kind of squash is off the menu, as are carrots, celery, peanuts, and a few other things. With Imperfect Foods I can tell them “no never send this thing” and I can also pick and choose from a suggested box…

    It’s been good, though. I was actually surprised Imperfect delivers in my area; many of the delivery services act like we’re the far side of the moon. (They come via FedEx here, which has also taught me: don’t get berries through them because you wind up with a punnett full of squish after it’s been through the Fed Ex mill). But for hardier veggies and fruit and for the meat and cheese, it’s fantastic. (They also have a few “staple goods” – I refreshed my pre-packaged pasta supply from them)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to fillyjonk says:

      In my part of the country, Imperfect is a bit more robust than this experience. I can get milk and eggs through Imperfect, in addition to a variety of packaged meats. Berries show up in good condition here; that is likely because they are more or less local to the PNW and Northern California.

      On occasion, Imperfect is, well, imperfect. I got four containers of short-coded (that is, nearing the stamped expiration date) turmeric chicken broth one week that I did not order; I’m going to have to figure out something to do with all of it. A soup of some sort, I should imagine, or maybe a risotto. Such experiences have proven rare, though.

      But the big thing to recommend it is the high degree of control over what’s in the box. You can’t pick what isn’t available, of course, but you’re in control of what comes should you choose to be. And even if I don’t order enough that they waive the delivery cost, it still works out to less than what I’d pay at the Safeway down the street from my home.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

        How is the milk imperfect?Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Burt Likko says:

        My stuff apparently sources out of Houston or near it; it’s about a day and a half jaunt via FedEx, so maybe that’s why they don’t offer eggs in my area. But the meat is quite good and the produce is better than acceptable. And cheese! And the funky chocolate covered raisins. (Funky because some have double the coating and others have none at all and there are weird hybrids where a coated raisin has an uncoated one stuck to it)

        It’s just still kind of a wonder to me to be able to get something more than boxed mac and cheese or Pop Tarts delivered to my door, even if I can’t get milk and eggs through them and have to avoid any fruit more delicate than purple grapes.Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    The Millennials quip about the changing nature of food procurement (having items delivered versus going out and shopping) brings to mind the old adage that what your parents did was old fashioned and in need of changing, what we did is tradition which must be preserved and what our kids do is dangerous experimentation that must be suppressed.

    I grew up in late 60s and early 70, and still have fuzzy memories of the Helms bakery truck delivering bread, or seeing tv shows where the milkman was a staple character. I also have memories of the small family run market down the road, which eventually fell to the massive supermarket chains as the area developed.

    My generation is living out that adage, in that a lot of us just assume that the way we lived is just somehow the default order of the universe. But in fact, our life was itself a strange oddity to the people who came before.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I spent a futile 20 minutes or so doing a websearch (heh) to see if there was any way to get milk delivered where I live – up where my mom lives, Oberweis Dairy still delivers, but there’s nothing here. I would pay quite a premium, in fact, for milk delivery through this, but that’s the one fresh thing I use regularly that can’t be gotten through an Imperfect Foods box. So that’s what I still have to go out for.

      I also think in the 1920s and into the 30s (and maybe even later), the well-off could get grocery delivery, at least in cities/towns. That’s coming back some places, it’s just now a few megachains doing it (and not everywhere; it’s not a thing with the local wal-mart).

      I admit, I wonder – as a very-alone person, how I’d work it if I got COVID exposed and had to strictly stay home for 14 days or more. I have enough canned goods, I guess, but I’d miss fresh fruit and milk.Report

    • Avatar Dead Agent in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I’m an Xer, we still had a milkman when I was little; it was a few years after before we finally got rid of the milk box. Now I can get milk delivered again.

      Regular grocery delivery used to be quite common…many Victorian era homes have delivery doors, even. Produce, dairy, ice, and eggs are things that were commonly sent over. I think this went on until cars became ubiquitous.Report

  4. Avatar Derek Stanley says:

    We use another service from Passanante. You sign up for 6 months of meat (frozen) and vegies. Part of what comes is a freezer to hold it. All vacuum sealed. We have loved it. I was not sure about the freezer, but have loved it.

    Very nice cuts of meat and has dropped our food bill quite a bit.

    Of course you have to figure out what you think you will want for 6 months and that can be a challenge, but after the first couple of orders, you get a much better feel.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    We have discovered that a lot of places that used to sell to restaurants are now opening up to the public because of COVID. Before the Pandemic we would mainly shop at the farmer’s market and Whole Foods. Now we are using a company called Cream Co for meats. The meat is much better quality than even Whole Foods but as you note, the problem is you get what you get. A butcher box contains a two steaks, a package of sausages, salami, ground beef, ground pork, a four pound chicken, and pork chops. They do not do a la carte but are starting to experiment with other stuff.

    There is a company called four star seafoods which allows a la carte but is more expensive and for treats.

    For veggies and fruit, we still do the farmer’s market. Whole Foods is for staples like milk, coffee, oatmeal, olive oil, etc.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I’ve heard criticisms of Misfit Foods stating that they aren’t actually taking from a waste pile, but rather are siphoning off foods that tend to go to lower income areas where folks may be less picky about their produce. So rather than poor people being able to buy this stuff for cheap because the wealthy people won’t, now the wealthy people are buying it for more money and there is less available. I’m not sure if that checks out but the criticism I saw was pretty robust.

    I’ve done a few of the boxes… Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, one other… generally through gifts. I found they had different flavor profiles and menu styles, with some more to my liking than others. If memory serves, Hello Fresh was my preference but I can’t remember. But that was purely personal. I do have issues with the amount of waste produced. Every thing came individually wrapped, usually in plastic of some kind and much of it non-recyclable.

    As Saul mentioned, some of the local restaurant supply houses are now offering their services direct to consumers. The ones I’ve seen tend to be very high end and expensive, probably with quality to match, but nothing I can justify spending. But I live in a wealthier area and folks seem to be loving it.

    I’ve also seen at least one restaurant (which tends to do more business lunch catering than anything else) transitioning to a grocery service. Basically, they are acting as a middle man between their vendors and customers, offering high quality and fresh ingredients they’d otherwise use to prepare their dishes to customers at a very reasonable cost.

    Living in or just outside major cities pretty much my whole life has meant access to grocery deliver for over a decade now. The options and structures have changed and the major issue now is reserving a spot. But I have had no concern about grocery shopping and continue to do so. The major issue is the Whole Foods in town tends to have a line, but it is relatively small and they’re sticking pretty hard to all the social distance guidelines. But there are many other options in walking or short driving distance. WF has improved their online ordering for curbside pickup.Report

    • Avatar Dead Agent in reply to Kazzy says:

      Even that which is destined for ‘waste’ is not truly wasted. This is the stuff that usually goes to food banks, so yeah, I’d feel weird using them. A local grocery chain boxes up their aging produce and sells it ridiculously cheap, tho, and I do buy those. Figuring out what to do with nine avocados is fun sometimes.

      Of course out here we have ample farm shares, and butchers all do ‘package deals’ where you can get a predetermined variety box, which is fun.Report

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