Fresh City Farms Review 2020
Our Fresh City Farms review is slightly different from the other meal kit reviews that we’ve done, due to the necessity of describing a much different company.
While Fresh City Farms does provide meal kits that can be directly compared to the larger Canada-wide companies like Hello Fresh, they are also more of a “healthy food delivery company” and are now adding storefronts and pickup centers to their service portfolio. While you can use the company purely to get one-off meal kits delivered to your door, Fresh City also offers the ability to quickly purchase a variety of other organic health-conscious “Whole Food-sy” options.
There are two main points that serve to differentiate Fresh City from other meal competitors:
- They are only available in the GTA (including Mississauga).
- Their focus on locally-sourced, organic goods is their calling card. The lawyer-turned-farmer-turned-CEO Ran Goel has stated that Fresh City meal kits contain, “almost 100 percent organic” ingredients.
While eating organic is not everyone’s cup of tea (at the risk of getting into a heated debate, we honestly don’t believe that depending on what your definition of “organic” is—for there are now many definitions—it is responsible from a world food production standpoint to advocate for exclusive-organic agriculture) the company’s tagline of “Fresh. Organic. Delivered. Healthy eating made easy.” is certainly effective!
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Fresh City Farms
If the name Fresh City seems familiar to you, it might be because you saw the company on CBC’s Dragons Den.
Founder Ran Goel asked for $300,000 in exchange for 10% of his company. He had a solid pitch that emphasized his wish to offer an alternative to mainstream food practices and to keep things local. The show gives you some idea of what a Fresh City Bag would look like and what their small recipe cards consist of.
However, the Dragons shied away from making serious offers when it was revealed that the company currently had relatively slim profit margins, given the intense competition within the sector. Personally, as a longtime watcher of the show and “armchair venture capitalist” (blatantly stolen from the phrase: armchair quarterback) we really wonder about Fresh City’s quest to be all things to all people in terms of opening brick-and-mortar locations and diversifying away from easy-to-understand, simple meal kits.
Click the link below to see the episode: https://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/pitches/fresh-city-farms
|Registered in||North York, ON|
|Clients in Canada||Unknown|
Fresh City Farms Weekly Plan Options
When you order from Fresh City Farms, their three most popular options are their bags. (No insulated boxes from Fresh City like you will find with Canada-wide meal kit providers like Goodfood, Chef’s Plate, or HelloFresh.) Here’s a quick breakdown of their most popular bags:
Fresh City Produce Bag
Whatever is fresh and in-season around Toronto. Fresh City buys up locally-sourced veggies (including from their own greenhouses) and delivers them to you. Contents of the bag vary from week-to-week, and you can’t handpick what produce you want with this bag. You’re basically signing up for a surprise food subscription box of local veggies and/or fruit. You can choose from various sizes and if you want exclusively fruit or exclusively vegetables. They tout their “Farmer’s Choice” bag as their Best Value.
Fresh City Salad Jar Bag
We all know we should eat more salads. Fresh City’s salad jars (which you can order separately, or as add-on items) contain all of the pre-portioned, organic ingredients, layered and sealed-in for freshness. They make it easy to simply empty the jar, mix up, and serve! They also include smoothies and snacks in these jars.
Fresh City Meal Kit Bag
The meal kit bags are what we’re most interested in for the purposes of our Fresh City Farms review and comparisons. There are currently six different types of subscription plans: omnivore, pescatarian, meat, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-friendly. Finally, Fresh City currently has two brick-and-mortar locations in Toronto and is getting ready to add a third. One is a large 3,000 sq. ft. greenhouse and 2-acre farm at Downsview Park. The other is a solar-powered 3,000 sq. ft. glass greenhouse at Baka Mobile off of Highway 427. In addition to purchase options, these locations often offer workshops and events for producers/farmers to meet Fresh City customers.
|Cooking skills needed||Basic|
|Ingredients sourced from||Canadian farms|
|Vegetarian restrictions||Dish selection|
|Exlude an ingredient (e.g. pork)||Dish selection|
|Calorie range||Dish selection|
|Low carb options||Dish selection|
|Allergy restrictions||Dish selection|
Terms and Fine Print
|Must be present for delivery||No|
|Delivery window||11AM to 12AM (midnight) on your delivery day|
|Box stays cold for||Several hours|
Fresh City Farms will deliver your order to your home or work address. Alternatively, you can pick it up in one of the Pickup Hubs. See below for a link to the pickup hub map:
Your home deliveries usually arrive weekly between 11 am and midnight on your delivery day, and office deliveries arrive by 5 pm. Fresh City Farms will charge you $3 to $3.50 fro delivery depending on your location. Deliveries over $75 are free, and of course there is no charge for pick up at any of the Pickup Hubs.
|Switch between plans||n/a|
|Minimum subscription length||No|
|How to cancel subscription||Online account, email or phone|
|Extra charge for skipping week||No|
|Weekly deadline to cancel/skip||10:00 am the day before your delivery|
|Personalization options||Selection of different dishes|
In case you need to change your preferences, to skip a single delivery, or put your deliveries on hold for a block of time, you need to notify the company earlier than 10 am the day before your delivery. In case you need to cancel your subscription, you can do it via your online account, by phone or email.
Support and Usability
In case you need to contact Fresh City Farms customer support, you have several ways to do so: by phone, email, via online chat, or on social media. The company has accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Unfortunately, no mobile app is available at the moment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes. Log in to your account and simply hold your order for that week. The deadline to cancel is 10:00 am the date before your delivery is scheduled.
Sort of. It’s the same tax rules as at a grocery store. So, fresh produce and other “necessity” food items do not have HST applied, while pre-packaged items, snacks, and beverages do get HST tacked on.
They are the most environmentally friendly meal kit or food delivery company that I’ve found. That said, they are able to achieve this because they are exclusive to the Toronto area. Fresh City now uses 100% recyclable packaging, and they reuse the tote bags and ice packs. In fact, they claim that they have already prevented more than one million pieces of trash from entering Toronto landfills as a result of their reuse policy. Fresh City states on its website that the packages that the food arrives in are 100% biodegradable and are 100% petroleum- and chlorine-free. Finally, Fresh City Farms delivers their packages in fuel-efficient vans or on bikes.
Fresh City Farms charges a $6.50 deposit on their tote bags if not returned within 100 days of your food being delivered. You can get that cash back if you return the bags before the one-year mark. In order to return the bag (and any other reusable products), simply leave it out, and the Fresh City team will pick it up when they drop off your new order. You can also drop off totes and reusable items at the pickup hub.
Technically—no. Practically—yes. Here’s the thing, the small local growers that Fresh City sometimes uses don’t have the size to warrant going through the certification process. Consequently, Fresh City works with the grower to ensure that the produce is grown without chemical or synthetic fertilizers. The other exception to the certification rule is when there is no local soil-grown alternative, Fresh City occasionally uses pesticide-free hydroponically grown items (which even though are grown organically, are not eligible for certified organic status) in these instances.
Almost all. Again, while all meal kits are making real efforts to use local sourcing (and do to a large degree) Fresh City stands out in its commitment to this principle. Certain items like fruit and out-of-season veggies are brought in from abroad. Fresh City states that their goal “is to keep the bag around 70% local on average.”
For folks that are 100% committed to the idea of the local diet, Fresh City Farms emphasizes their “Local Only Bag” that obviously is made up exclusively of produce grown right in Ontario.
Finally, I think many people in this niche would find it worth mentioning that Fresh City makes a special effort to work with and recognize co-ops, non-profits, and fair trade certified suppliers.
The Final Words About Fresh City Farms
If you live in the GTA and place a high value on the idea of buying locally-grown, organic food—then Fresh City is right in your wheelhouse. We like the idea of the returnable tote bags and the variety of different select-and-deliver options available. If, on the other hand, you put more emphasis on meat-eating meals, just want fresh produce (as opposed to fresh PLUS organic and local), and want your food kept cool in an insulated box, then I would recommend checking our Hello Fresh Review or Chef’s Plate Review.
You will need to sign up for a 2-person plan and use the two servings consequentially.
You have 14 2-portion meals to choose from. Minimum order is $27
You have 18 2-portion meals to choose from. Minimum order is $27
You have 21 2-portion meals to choose from. Minimum order is $27