Smart fridges aim to bring the restaurant experience to customers in under 15 square feet.
Photos courtesy of Farmer’s Fridge

A current trend in produce is to find ways to make fresh foods readily available to consumers. One company, Farmer’s Fridge, aims to do that in Chicago. Below, Farmer’s Fridge vice president of marketing, Nadine Rich, answers a few questions about the business.

Produce Grower: For those that aren’t aware, what is Farmer’s Fridge?

Nadine Rich: Farmer’s Fridge is a 15-square-foot restaurant that serves wholesome, high-quality handmade salads and meals in automated fridges throughout the city of Chicago. With over 60 fridges open 24/7, including the Merchandise Mart, O’Hare Airport and Northwestern Hospitals. More and more people enjoy Farmer’s Fridge every day.

PG: Where does the produce come from and what does a salad from it cost?

NR: We source our ingredients from a variety of places and we love to highlight seasonal and local products via rotational menu dishes. All our meals and snacks are handmade daily in our Fulton Market Kitchen. Overnight, we deliver our freshly prepared breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks to each of our locations. Food that hasn’t sold that day is removed and donated via our partnership with Zero Percent [a Chicago organization that crowdsources food donations]. Any food that cannot be donated is composted. Our price points range from $2 for snacks up to an average of $9 for larger meals and salads.

PG: What was the inspiration behind it? How long has Farmer’s Fridge been around?

NR: Luke Saunders, the founder and chief executive officer of Farmer’s Fridge, launched the company in 2013. The idea was sparked while Luke was working as a traveling salesman. He had difficulty finding fresh, healthy, delicious food options on the road. The company is based on the philosophy that good health starts with what we eat and that eating well shouldn’t be hard.

Farmer’s Fridge salads are made fresh daily in a kitchen the company owns.
Photos courtesy of Farmer’s Fridge

PG: What makes Chicago a good fit for Farmer’s Fridge?

NR: Chicago is a great food city and people here are interested in trying new things, both in terms of flavor and experience. The city had a breadth of verticals perfect for new fridge locations, including high-rise commercial real estate, universities, airports and museums. Chicagoans have been receptive to the distribution model, and we regularly get feedback about the menu and consumer experience.

PG: What makes this product better or different than Panera delivery or other fresh food options?

NR: Our distribution model along with the freshness and care that goes into making the food, are what set us apart. All our salads, meals and snacks are handcrafted in our kitchen in the Fulton Market. We cut our own carrots, roast our own chicken, and shred our own cheese using the best ingredients we can find. Our dressings are made from scratch without preservatives fresh daily and you can taste it. We do this every day so that our customers can browse the menu, select a meal, and pay with just a few taps of a touchscreen and the swipe of a credit card. They can get a wholesome meal at a nearby fridge in 30-45 seconds.

PG: What does the future of Farmer’s Fridge look like?

NR: We’re continuing to grow in Chicago and plan to expand in the Midwest and other regions in the future. We’re constantly working to improve our customer experience, and we’ll be introducing exciting new menu items.