AroundAustin: Mason what does Greenling Organic Delivery do?
Mason: We deliver Organic and/or Local food right to people’s door. Everything is done online. You browse just like you would at a grocery store, pick and choose what you want, then schedule it for delivery.
AroundAustin: I looked through your website, pretty neat. Didn’t you win an award from PC Magazine for the technology used in both the website and delivery?
Mason: Yes, we did. Along with awards from Dell & NFIB, BigAustin, and a couple of other organizations.
AroundAustin: I found it cool that you actually measure the temperature as the product is being delivered
Mason: Yeah, we get asked all the time what happens if someone is not home for the delivery. We know that boxes are just fine out on the porch for several hours, even in Texas’ scorching heat, but I wanted to be absolutely sure. So we continually track it.
AroundAustin: When did you start Greenling?
Mason: I got together with a college friend to talk about it around January of 2005 and we made our first delivery in May of that year.
AroundAustin: What motivated you to start a business in such a competitive field?
Mason: Well, it really boiled down to what we saw in the market. The food distribution system for Organic food was developing slowly. In many emerging markets you see this. Sometimes they are demand driven, or supply driven, but figuring out how to get the product from point A to point B is often an afterthought. Conventional food has a very sophisticated distribution network, but Organics was not just piggy-backing on that system because of the extra requirements for the food. We looked at the whole supply chain and thought we could do it better.
AroundAustin: From the customer’s perspective, better how?
Mason: Fresher! The average piece of produce in America travels over 1500 miles and is 2.5 weeks old, ours travels less than 200 miles and is sometimes only 24 hours old.
AroundAustin: Wow! I would imagine fresher implies tastier what other benefits does fresher organic produce offer?
Mason: The biggest one is more nutritional content. Since we know we will be delivering the food that much faster, our farmers can leave the product in the ground longer and let it ripen, which is when much of the nutrient content is created.
AroundAustin: I’ve been reading a lot about the nutritional differences in organic food and the effects it has on one’s health. That’s exciting.
AroundAustin: Where do you source your product?
Mason: We get as much locally as we can. If it’s growing locally, we get it. But Texas agriculture is difficult and very seasonal. For things that are out of season that people still want to purchase, we get it from Colorado or California.
AroundAustin: How do prices compare to going to a farmer’s market?
Mason: They are comparable to farmer’s markets and natural food stores. We buy in such quantities that we’re able to stay competitive.
AroundAustin: That is unexpected. For the convenience of delivery I expected to pay a bit more.
Mason: we sell over 5000 pounds of local produce each week. We are able to keep costs down with our ordering system and inventory management.
Mason: we run a very tight ship and try to move everything out of the warehouse by the end of the week.
AroundAustin: How much of Austin do you cover now?
Mason: We now go from San Antonio up to a drop-point in Georgetown. In Austin we deliver from down near Manchaca up to Round Rock and Cedar Park. West to Lakeway.
AroundAustin: Any plans for growing the business to other cities soon?
Mason: Yes. We are currently raising money to expand to Houston and Dallas. We think our innovative model can be successful in any city and we think everyone should have easy access to fresh Local and Organic food.
AroundAustin: So how do I sign up?
Mason: You just go to www.Greenling.com. On the home page there is a space to enter your Zip Code. This determines your delivery day. Then you just browse the site to see what’s available right now. Anything that you see on the website, you can order for delivery. Selection does change rapidly, though, so you may see some things one week and not the next. Check out and schedule your delivery. If you like what you get, it will just keep coming every week. Anytime you want to change what you are getting or skip a week or two, just sign back on and make the changes. It’s really easy!
AroundAustin: Ok one last question. You say your favorite vegetable is Collard Greens cooked right. Really? How do you cook it right?
Mason: There is apparently an art to cooking them. I think the main thing is to not over-cook them. Good, Organic collard greens just need to be heated a little bit. It softens them up and releases more flavor. Over-cooked greens always seem to be sour, like when you order them in restaurants. When cooked right, they are smooth, velvety, and very tasteful!
AroundAustin: I’ll have to try it. Soon
Mason: definitely. One of my favorite dishes is Black-eyed pea soup with collard greens and sausage or bacon.
AroundAustin: Thanks Mason
Greenling Organic Delivery, www.greenling.com