The Purple Carrot, Pears, a Mixer, and the SFDPH

In the spirit of understanding food delivery a bit more, my husband and I have enjoyed sampling a handful of Purple Carrot meals over the past two weeks. In general, the meals have pushed us to try new things and spend the time to cook together. Up until now, our typical weeknight meal is repeatedly a veggie rice bowl, or a combination of 5-10 types of sautéed or steamed vegetables on a bed of short grain brown rice with a cooked egg on top. It’s filling, hot, delicious, and makes us eat a wide range of unique vegetables (thank you, Farm Fresh to You!), and it’s always different. It also helps us maintain normal sleep habits – when we eat something new or a heavy meat dish, often times we can’t sleep well! It’s amazing what you notice when you’re used to eating healthy meals on a regular basis.

Anyway, back to Purple Carrot. Because of this new vegan meal delivery service, I’ve now cooked with jackfruit (yeah, so interesting!!) and made a yuba cake (yes, it feels like skin before you cook it), things I would have never thought to do (see above re: veggie rice bowl). I think some of their recipes were not well-written, which led to confusion (why is the oven on again?), and most of the recipes won’t be repeats for us due to the amount of time they’d take to find the ingredients, prep, and cook. But we’re appreciative to go outside our delightful rice bowl every now and then, so we are thinking this will become a monthly order (you order three meals at a time).

Panfried Yuba Cake with the First Taste of SpringIMG_7851

While rice bowls typically help me sleep well, I have woken up several times over the last week thinking about pears. I’ve wondered how I can get a large quantity of pears at the right stage of ripeness, or what day I’d need to get them to guide them to the stage of ripeness I desired. I’ve researched the pear growing season in Northern California (July through October), and what types of pears are most appreciated by the general American palate (unfortunately, for the most part, Bartlett). I’m not only curious about this, but I know that my customers will need to know what they’re getting when I suggest pears in my snack combinations. So much to know about pears. And broccoli. And tangelos. And cucumbers. And snap peas. YUM (not yawn). In the meantime though, I also handled a major first delivery of apple and pear combos… which is probably why I woke up thinking about pears.

Nibble snacks of fresh-cut apples, ready for delivery!IMG_7862.jpg

I attended a “Food Tech Mixer” at General Assembly earlier this week. Since I’m getting involved in a completely new industry, I’m trying to use local meetups as a way to meet more people in the food scene, understand what’s going on, and get the Nibble word out there! During the Mixer, I found myself asking people a lot of questions about what they do (“I’m a lawyer that specializes in food companies” … “I do PR for a lot of small food startups” … “I am a dairy farmer”… “I make videos for new companies”…”I am a chef that offers cooking classes”, etc.) and then excitedly asking them if I could drop off samples of healthy snacks to their offices. Certainly growing pains on my part: I needed business cards to hand out, specific asks of the 70+ people that were there (e.g. become a beta tester), and samples to share in person! I did come home excited to do what I’m doing, and with a few new connections.

A delightful lamp shadow on the way to the MixerIMG_7874.jpg

I leave you with one final thought from the last week, and a photo. I spent some time in the San Francisco Department of Public Health, to drop off my application for training and testing to get a Manager’s Food Safety Certification. This will allow me to work in a retail food establishment in California, and in addition to my food handler license (already taken), will help me continue to build my arsenal of credentials as I build my business. It was a quiet, but surprisingly efficient and busy place. While in the office, I took some time to look around and think more about how much my work life has changed in just a few weeks. I still have slight trepidation about what I am doing, but my fear about doing something new and outside of the corporate space has completely subsided. Being on this side of the fear is just overwhelming, exciting, and full of promise!

Signs of the food industryIMG_7875.jpg

Can I Give You Free Food? 


My husband and I met a wonderful Swedish couple at Union Larder this past Saturday; an hour of cheese, hummus, and wine later they were leaving with deep knowledge of nibble, my email address, and website. One of them worked in the finance department of a major Swedish juice company, so nibble was interesting and relevant (n.b. she gets to take home 2 liters of juice a day). But for most people I talk to, I get a lot of wide eyes and nods – maybe that’s the typical response given to anyone starting a company who gushes about something they are super into – until I actually start talking about the food itself and share photos or samples. So I’m beginning to see that people need to feel, see, hear, taste, touch real when you’re talking about real. So if you live in the Bay Area and want to experience real: can I give you samples? And if you don’t live nearby or somehow you don’t want free fresh snacks, I’ll do my best to share photos of my journey here.

In the spirit of “more action less non-action” (see prior post), I have been spending the last few days making snacks or working on my YC application. So when my friend Amy asked me last night: “how can I help?”, my response was simply “let me drop free snacks by your office.” Today and tomorrow I’ll be making similar snack drops to a prior employer. The more I can share samples of nibble snacks, the more feedback I can get and more confidence I’ll have in the concept. So if I can bring you free, fresh, healthy food, send me a note!

I leave you with shots from my last few days of prep.

Carrots for a 10-sample snack drop. Wax bags as current packaging.

Homemade hummus in 2 oz. composable containers.

Testing out possible box packaging. Thanks Georgette Packaging!

Bias Towards Action

IMG_7791

I spent the afternoon in the Y Combinator ‘hood. This involved a combination of lemon picking and lemonade making, Ikea furniture admiring, and pitch-deck discussing. My friend Chris is currently part of YC. He has a timer on his computer counting down to ‘Demo Day’ (5.237834783439 days from now). This is his second time through YC. Today, he was tired, relaxed, confident, wise. And based on the environment he is currently immersed in, provided very clear advice to the Day 3 version of me: bias towards action.

I’ve actually heard that before. From Chris. A little over three months ago. When nibble was still just a nibble of an idea (sorry, couldn’t help it) and I was meandering between market research, nutritional guidance, food trend inputs, the state of the local farm industry, the state of food delivery, the psychology of human willpower… yeah, basically I was doing everything but doing. His nudge led to ‘snack drops’ at my prior company so I could experience making and packaging and delivering snacks. Such action!

It’s clear now that three days in, I need to do more. I need to remember that I am already convinced of nibble. But if I’m going to convince others, I need to display the proof of the nibble concept before they listen to my synthesis of years of reading and researching. If I’m aiming to contribute to lead the evolution of snacking in America, then I should be expecting consumer responses to nibble snacks unlike responses to current snack offerings. I should be seeking customer responses that are only hinted at in the research today. Which means I need to get more snacks in the hands of more people.

You know, like when you really want to make a latte but don’t have milk and you walk to the store to get milk and make your latte (like Chris). You know, doing.

Snacks Rule Everything Around Me

There is a new ice cream slash cookie shop in the Bay Area called CREAM: Cookies Rule Everything Around Me. Since SREAM doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, I’m moving forward with project nibble, a retail food idea that is at its roots trying to convince America of something it already knows: three meals a day is old news and snacks should rule everything around you.

I first realized nibble one year ago. I sat with the concept, the phased approach, and the name for several months before really digging in with surveying, learning, testing, and designing in the Fall of 2015. In early 2016, my efforts on nibble convinced me to quit my corporate job and work on the project full time. I’m ending my first day of the new ‘job’ now, though it’s hard to call it a ‘job’ because all I’ve thought about for weeks is that today was going to be the first day of ‘vacation’. That’s the closest description I have of how this new endeavor feels to me – I’m that excited and it feels that surreal.

I’m nervous. I don’t have a nutrition degree or a business degree. I’ve never started a restaurant or built an app. But I care more than anyone about getting healthy, fresh snacks into the hands of every American. I believe that snacks sit in the cracks of space that help define our lifestyle and who we are: the right snacks hold the keys to transform Americans into happy, nimble, positive eaters. I have centered my own life in this way, hence SREAM.

Nibble aims to become the Starbucks of snacking. Today begins the focused journey of building towards that goal. I plan to use this space to document my progress and share insights about snacking. Happy snacking!