spud! change how you get groceries

Those of you that know me, know that I’m a huge foodie. I love to cook and enjoy trying new foods. There is nothing I won’t eat — though I lean towards the vegetarian/vegan side of life when I can. I’m also passionate about the environment and my impact on the planet and wanted to talk […]

Those of you that know me, know that I’m a huge foodie. I love to cook and enjoy trying new foods. There is nothing I won’t eat — though I lean towards the vegetarian/vegan side of life when I can. I’m also passionate about the environment and my impact on the planet and wanted to talk about my love of spud! — an online grocery service that I use.

I started using spud! back in 1998 when I lived in Vancouver. I heard about the service while I was working at Citizens Bank of Canada Douglas & McIntyre (a Vancouver-based book publisher) and was impressed with both the idea of having groceries delivered but also the idea of doing something healthy for me while supporting a local business and local farmers. At the time I was single and didn’t own a car and biked everywhere. Each week I’d order online and a new bin would get dropped off at the house I lived at. It was like Christmas with produce as the gifts. It made me eat food I had never tried or bought before regularly before (like swiss chard and mustard greens), saved me from lugging heavy bags back from the grocery store on my bike, and gave me more time to do other things in life. Later we moved across the street from an organic grocery store and I stopped using spud.

When we moved from Vancouver to Calgary, I noticed that spud! had grown up and now had a location in Calgary (as well as Portland, Seattle, LA and San Francisco). I was thrilled as the nearest grocery store was a Safeway that had horrible produce and almost nothing organic to choose from. So, I signed up. The good news is that in my short absence spud! got even better. The selection expanded and the flexible options (like customizing your produce selection, creating standing orders and email reminders) make shopping for groceries a snap.

Spud! is easy, saves me time and money, still helps me eat healthy and best of all is run by fantastic people. Their customer service, the drivers and everyone who works there are super friendly. I’ve joined the spud! Facebook group, follow spud! on Twitter and feel like I’m part of something bigger doing good in my community. Especially fun has been winning some spud! schwag like a spud! shopping bag, a spud! t-shirt and even $25 off my order.

Now we have a son, and he loves spud! And because I don’t have to spend my weekends running around town doing grocery shopping – I get more time to spend with him. He’s hooked on the fresh carrots, broccoli (we had fresh local crowns earlier in the year), my amazing organic kale and chard soup, Happy Planet juices and Sweet Potato Pow cookies (if you haven’t tried these cookies from Calgary-base PURE you must). We even built a birdhouse out of a Happy Planet carton and he likes to help unpack the weekly spud! delivery.

So what’s it like ordering groceries online using spud?

All in, I think my grocery shopping takes me maybe 5 minutes a week. And I can do it from anywhere, anytime. Here’s what I do:

Sunday night I login and make changes to my produce bin. I sometimes remove some of the suggestions and then browse through what’s available looking for one-off treasures – like the fresh fava beans I grabbed a couple weeks ago. Then I flip through the weekly specials, add any items we need from my saved favourites. Then I submit the order. Done.

One of the cool things spud! does is track the mileage associated with each item you buy, and if your order comes in under 1250km, you get entered into a draw for a free dinner. I usually spend some time at the end of my order tweaking things to try and come in under (what they call a “local hero”) as I’m really cognizant of how far my food has travelled. After all, buying local means supporting your local economy and local farmers. What could be better.

With each spud! purchase you earn rewards points. Points can be cashed in (1000 point = $10). In the spirit of giving back I donate my spud! rewards to the local food bank every second order. I cash in $10 and then do a donation online for $10. It’s amazing how quickly I can earn points and it helps the hungry in my community. And I still get a tax receipt in the mail from the food bank.

Some of the things I like about spud!

  • The lack of packaging. My order comes in a big rubbermaid bin, not a bag or plastic bags. The previous week’s bins get picked up when my next order is dropped off. What’s inside is fresh, local and not from a box. When it does come in a box, container or otherwise it is usually recyclable.
  • Local, organic food really does taste better. I can no longer eat a grocery store carrot or bland veggies. In fact even my son notices how bad carrots taste when we go our for dinner.
  • They listen to their customers. The spud! blog, customer surveys, Twitter all help them continuously improve.

Some of my favourite products at spud!

Aside from the fantastic produce, these are some of my favourite products at spud!

  • Hoven Farms organic beef burgers. These are to die for and great on a BBQ or when camping. From Eckville, AB.
  • 2GreekGals Tzatziki. Yummy with some spanakopita (which spud also sells) or a side of veggies. From Calgary, AB.
  • Anahata bars. These are fantastic snacks and help address that occasional craving for something sweet.
  • Sweet Potato Pow Cookies – Pure Indulgent Foods makes some of the best vegan/dairy-free cookies you’ll ever have. A mainstay in Calgary’s Marda Loop area, now delivered via spud!

Some things I’d like to see spud! do better

No one is perfect (but spud! is close). Here’s some things I’d like to see them offer:

  • Expand the product selection. I get the economics of a limited product shelf, but I’d love to see a slightly bigger selection of things. Where I think they could do a better job is in the breadth not depth of products. For example, it would be nice to be able to buy pickles in the summer time – but I can’t.
  • More variety in the weekly specials. Week to week it could be more interesting. Kiju juices have been on sale now for something like 6 months. Time to switch it up at bit.
  • Provide the ability to locate all “local” products with a single click – as I can with new products. Spud! does classify their products as being local, but there’s no easy way to see all of them at one go. You only see the “local” flag on things when you look at products in a category or on the detail page for an item. This would help me cut down on the mileage my groceries travel.
  • Add nutritional information. It can be hard knowing how healthy something is that you are ordering — since you don’t get to see the labels when you shop (like you do in a store). Spud products are generally on the healthy side anyway, but it would be helpful for those times when you have questions.

Anyhow, that’s my post about spud! If you’d like to try spud! and start enjoying great fresh produce, local dairy and bakery with delivery you can save $25 over your first 4 deliveries. Just signup using promo code CR5-100004913.


One reply on “spud! change how you get groceries”

Excellent write up. I agree with your assessment of spud! – the convenience and great produce can’t be beat. And I too dream of a bigger selection, with me the lack is felt in the meat section too. I am not quite ready to pay 60.00 for a ham, I don’t care how bio-dynamic it is. Surely there are other local producers for greater variety and prices. Overall though, I couldn’t live without my weekly delivery.

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