We all do it and it happens at least once a week -- the regular jaunt to the grocery store for a few items that results in an armful of less-than-healthy options. Fine, they were 'on sale'. They screamed at you with their tasty temptation. But our weak mortal will power is not all to blame. Grocery stores are designed to keep us locked in a maze of endless food with glitzy displays, strategically placed sale items and long check-out lines.
Eating Well Ottawa is injecting convenience and cost-efficient healthy options into our regular routine. They run on an innovative model that allows consumers (and health-nut-wannabes) to purchase a box brimming with fresh, organic, locally-grown produce without stepping foot in a store, market or even out of their home. It's simply delivered, right to your door, on a weekly basis.
"We want to push a new type of thinking and show consumers how they can get high quality food with the click of a mouse," explained Founder Brendan Gorman. "People associate organics with being costly but our model works great because we get produce from the distributor, allowing us to offer lower prices that's also more convenient with free home delivery."
Boxes are categorized by their contents and come in three options: harvest, local and office. All come in varied sizes suitable for a single person, two people or a large family. Harvest boxes are available all year long and include a mix of organic vegetables and fruit from local, regional and national sources. Local boxes contain these items but are sourced from Ottawa only. Office boxes are stocked with fresh, organic fruit for employees to snack on. You can also provide a list of produce you aren't particularly fond of to ensure you get a box filled with everything you'll want to eat.
Launched just three short months ago, the company is already seeing great success with a solid customer base that's grown to include Quebec and are even looking to expand their offerings with healthy pantry items. They even include recipes using the produce contained in each box to help people get inspired.
"Not everyone knows what to do with rainbow swiss chard," said Gorman. "They like the addition of the recipes because it really helps them get more creative in their own kitchens."
Eating Well Ottawa's beginnings started two years ago when Gorman's talent as a soccer player brought him to St. Lawrence University in New York. After a trip to Boston with friends, he discovered the online grocery store Boston Organics.
"I thought the whole concept was really neat and no one back in Ottawa was doing it," he said. "Even Toronto has huge companies that make 4,000 deliveries per week, yet no one in the Capital knew of this. I wanted to create a business that was focused on providing top quality food as well as top quality service."
In addition to the fact that Gorman has expertise in healthy eating as an athlete, he also grew up in the food industry with parents who own multiple restaurants throughout the city. Currently, they're manufacturers and distributors of wholesale food products to grocery stores.
"I've helped my dad with his businesses all my life, so this has been a great fit for me," he said. "I knew what I was getting into and I understand the importance of building strong relationships with suppliers and farmers."