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Wired has a piece by writer/reporter Collier Meyerson in which she talks about insights gleaned from the avoidance of supermarket shopping via Instacart.

“I signed up for the grocery delivery service exactly two minutes after a neighbor told me about it a couple of years ago,” she writes. “My local supermarket wasn’t local in the marketable sense of that word; it was the type of place where you bought a banana that had two bruises on it at purchase but somehow the next day had 19. Instacart seemed to solve so much. It alleviated my grocery shopping anxiety by taking the responsibility out of my hands entirely. It put my chefing aspirations literally on the table. And I assured myself the extra financial burden would be worth it because I would be valiantly contributing to someone in the gig economy.

“I used the service for a few months, but over time, it exacerbated a certain current-day conundrum: The more we remove ourselves from our food, the less familiar with it we become. When I used Instacart, I never touched my avocados for ripeness or assessed tomatoes for their size. I already felt profoundly disconnected from my food. I’ve never cared for a farm animal or pulled a carrot from the ground. I like cheeseburgers, but I would never personally handle ground beef. By pressing a few buttons to have a person show up to my house with a bag of groceries, I cemented that disconnection and delegated away a core part of my personal health and nutrition to someone else. Someone who likely does not have adequate time to select that food. Someone whose objective is to get it done as quickly as possible so they can drive my groceries to me so they can start the process again for their next customer.”

Meyerson argues that “using apps like Instacart should be the exception, not the rule. The further we get away from our food, the harder it becomes to understand its significance … So here’s a challenge for us all, me included: Sign off and go touch an apple.”

You can read the entire piece here.
KC's View:
What this suggests to me is that companies that do a good job of connecting the e-commerce consumer to their food have an opportunity to create for themselves a real differential advantage. It means having the ability to use technology tell a compelling story, and not thinking that the technology is the bee-all and end-all. What matters is the narrative.

I think this is what Farmstead is trying to do, for example.