Farmer’s Fridge offers a healthy alternative to those on the go: salad!
Image: Farmer’s Fridge

No matter how much we wish it would sometimes, life just never seems to slow down. As humans, we’re becoming experts at doing things more efficiently and effectively—because we have to. Our lives have become overpopulated with To-Do lists, late nights on the job, frequent travel, and more. Weren’t automobiles and planes supposed to make our lives easier? Sometimes it seems like “convenience” has only complicated things.

One thing that can be incredibly hard to do while leading a busy life is eat right. Lots of people want to treat their bodies to healthier meals but simply find that they do not have the time. Especially while traveling, eating well can be tough. This Christmas when I traveled home, I spent $10 on a cup of what claimed to be French onion soup (but was really incredibly salty beef broth and a little cheese) and an apple juice. In my attempt to avoid the fast food joint next door, I basically wound up with a $10 juice. The juice was good, but my appetite and wallet would have been much more satisfied by a greasy burger.

If there had been a Farmer’s Fridge there, oh how things would have been different. Farmer’s Fridge is a new venture opened up by entrepreneur Luke Saunders in Chicago’s Garvey Food Court. It’s a vending machine like no other—because this vending machine sells farm-fresh salads packed full of things like quinoa, kale, and strawberries. The healthy and delicious little concoctions are packed into recyclable plastic jars and delivered daily, ensuring that “great tasting food can be really good for you and really easy to get.”

Prices for the salads start at $7.99, with daily specials going for $6.99. Salads can be paired with protein for $2 and salmon for $4, and after 6 p.m. everything gets discounted by $1. The crew packs fresh salads daily beginning at 5 a.m., delivers at 10 a.m. and donates any unsold salads to local food kitchens. It’s certainly not the cheapest meal to be found at the food court, but it’s far healthier and honestly not much pricier than a meal at, say, Burger King would be.

Plus, Saunders has made the whole production as eco-friendly as he could manage. The vending machine includes a touchscreen, with the outside made from reclaimed barn wood. There is even a recycling bin for salad eaters who want to recycle their used plastic containers—or they can visit the Farmer’s Fridge website for tips on how to upcycle the jars at home.

Currently, there are just two Farmer’s Fridge locations—the one at Garvey Food Court and another at the Tollway Oasis above Route 94 in Lake Forest (both in Chicago). Saunders says he wants to continue opening up more kiosks throughout Chicago—and we sure hope he’ll continue past the city limits. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have these kiosks pop up in major cities throughout the U.S.?

“I am not sure where we will stop, but at this point we have more machines planned to launch in February than I thought would launch in all of 2014,” Saunders says.