3-Course Interview: Tess Monaghan_lowres


Founded in San Francisco two years ago, Good Eggs (www.goodeggs.com/nola) is an online farmers market that connects local producers to customers. Good Eggs takes orders, collects items from local producers on the day of distribution and either delivers groceries or bundles them for pickup. Tess Monaghan directs the New Orleans operation, which began its pilot phase in June. It served nearly 100 customers last week, and expects to find a larger location, double its pool of producers and offer more pickup spots when it opens officially later this year.

How does Good Eggs work for customers?

Monaghan: We have a "webstand," and we work with producers to set up an online storefront. We're a conduit to connect farmers to customers. We don't buy eggs; the customer goes online and buys from the egg person.

  The way our software is set up, when you go online, you're buying food directly. If you buy a steak, a dozen eggs and broccoli, you're paying [the producers] directly.

  Customers have to order on Sunday by midnight for Tuesday, and Tuesday by midnight for Thursday. All food is grown, made and harvested to order — nothing is sitting on a shelf. If you order butternut squash on Sunday, Tim picks it on Monday or Tuesday morning and brings it to us Tuesday, and you're eating it that night.

How does Good Eggs choose the food producers it works with?

M: [In New Orleans], we have an emerging system as far as local food economy goes. People reach out to us, and we look for farms that are growing sustainably, without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. People raising animals for meat, eggs or dairy can't use hormones or antibiotics — ever, and the animals have to be able to range free in an outdoor space.

How is this different than traditional grocery stores?

M: Our primary goal is around transparency. We think the problem with the industrial agricultural system is that you have no idea where food comes from. You have no idea what soil produced it, or who grew it, or how much they were paid, or what pesticides were used. Even the organic designation is such a commercial thing. The biggest companies that sell organic foods are almost all owned by the Nestles and Krafts of the world. You can go into Whole Foods and find organic snack crackers. They are organic; they are produced without certain ingredients, but they are produced by companies owned by the same Nestles and Unilevers as the nonorganic chemical-filled stuff next to it. ...

  Our primary goal is to work with producers that are very transparent in their sourcing. On our website, you can see a lot of information about them. If you have a question, you can email them or us.

  Good Eggs' mission is to grow and sustain local food systems worldwide. We hope [our software] is a technology tool that's applicable. It's a way to change our relationship to food in this post-industrial age. How can we make it as convenient to buy from your local farmer as it is from a grocery store, where food is maybe being trucked in from Mexico or California. We believe in more dollars staying local. We believe in local employment and local businesses.