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Consumer Trends

Vending Salads

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The idea of a high-protein salad dispensed from a vending machine may seem hard to swallow, but get ready to pick up your fork and dig in.

Farmer’s Fridge is now offering a healthy vending concept at Chicago’s Garvey Food Court. The company makes its salads, sides and snacks from scratch each morning, using organic ingredients from local farms whenever possible. The items are packaged in recyclable plastic jars (made from BPA- and phthalate-free plastic) and delivered to the vending machines by 10 a.m.

The salads are visually appealing and packed with healthy ingredients. Menu selections range from high protein salads with spinach, corn, peas and pumpkin seeds, figs, broccoli, chickpeas, shredded Parmesan and quinoa, to heartier meals like lemon pepper chicken, baked tofu and poached salmon. Snacks include Greek yogurt, sliced vegetables and cauliflower fried rice.

According to the company’s website, Farmer’s Fridge’s big idea “is to make slow food available fast. To deliver a fresh take on fresh. To turn the vending machine into a veggie machine. And make access to healthy delicious food the rule, not the exception.”

Just as each salad is a culinary thing of beauty, so too is the vending kiosk. Made from reclaimed wood and recycled materials, it is unique and user friendly.

Salads start at $7.99, snacks cost $3 and there’s a weekly special -- the “Jar Du Jour” retails for $6.99. After 6 p.m. the salads are discounted by $1. Unsold salads are donated to a local food pantry when the machine is restocked the next day.