Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weekly Dig: InSeason: Lettuce eat easy with local food deliveries

Acting on a hot tip from local chef J.J. Gonson, I wrote up this piece about Chris Crandall of InSeason the millisecond I found out that his local organic food delivery service, currently based in Salem, would be coming to Boston. It appears that I even scooped the Globe, which will feature InSeason this coming Sunday (Aug 17).

Crandall and I ended up having a pretty pleasant conversation. The entrepreneur balances a sense of street smarts (he lived in Boston for over a decade) with down-home farmer charm (his grandparents on both sides come from Vermont farming stock). He told me about his motivation, which is complex, and therefore was cut from the Weekly Dig "Greenland" piece. He said:

"I feel very strongly about farmers in New England. I wouldn't have chosen this business if I didn't feel there was this intrinsic part of NewEngland that's just vanishing. My family history is in Vermont, where the dairy farms are being replaced by townhouses. The other families that we met there -- their farms are melting away.

Places lose their personality when they modernize and homogenize. I don't want that to happen for New England. There's a strong contingent that wish it wasn't like that everywhere. And those are the folks I'm trying to appeal to."

It's hard not to agree with Crandall, who seems to combine this idealism and nostalgia with plenty of pragmatism and an entrepreneur's instinct for survival. He started his delivery service because he sees an opportunity in folks like me, who can never make it to the farmer's market before it closes, who don't have the resources or reliable schedules to handle pounds of mystery produce every week a la Boston Organics' model, and who don't have enough capital for a CSA. It remains to be seen if he can really fix our problems. But if he can -- then rejoice, 9-to-5'ers and poor freelancers -- your time to consume heirloom tomatoes from a hydroponic grower in Western Mass has come. Hopefully.

(Note: do not confuse with -- which appears to bring salvation of an entirely different sort.)

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