Here's the truth: Americans hate vegetables. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, only 6% of American adults eat the recommended serving --2 ½ cups -- of vegetables per day. While that alone may not be proof that we are not big fans of green things, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014 may be. Researchers found that when preschoolers were told food is "good for you" or "will make you strong," -- code words for things that are green -- they inferred that the food was less tasty and consumed less of it. There is a reason why Cookie Monster's metamorphosis on Sesame Street into the Veggie Monster was short lived.
While adults are aware of many compelling reasons to eat less meat including reducing rates of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, and early death, plus all of the environmental factors involved, convenience is a big factor hindering veggie consumption for many people. Fresh vegetables get "slimy" after just a few days, and it is much easier to stick a pizza in the microwave than to chop, toss and dress a salad. Hence the rise of the cook at home meal craze made popular by Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh, among others. These services make cooking a lot easier with their premeasured ingredients and step-by-step directions. But, in reality, these services still take a level of time and dedication few families are willing to spend on a dinner that is often consumed in less than 10 minutes standing at the kitchen counter, or on the couch in front of the TV.
So how does an entrepreneur tackle these issues? Hungryroot, whose promising tagline is "Pure. Comfort. Food." offers "vegetable-centered foods that satisfy on every level" with plant-based meals delivered to your door that can be prepared in minutes. They are different from some of the other meal delivery sites as their products can be ordered individually instead of as part of a subscription or can be purchased in bundles of meals that are meant to last several days. This flexibility is attractive for those who do not want to commit to a certain number of meals every week.
Hungryroot was founded by Top Chef Master Franklin Becker, after he was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. Becker raised $6 million dollars to "uproot how America eats." His offerings include ready-to-eat meals like carrot noodles, sweet potato mac, and snacks and sweets like bake-at-home black bean brownie batter and almond chickpea cookies. And while I was unable to convince my children to eat these items, as delicious as they looked to me, my husband and I chowed down with pleasure --and we are not alone. Hungryroot.com is now available at Whole Foods and on FreshDirect and the company is selling a million units a year.
"Our mission is to create healthy foods that people crave," Becker explains. "We do so by reinventing indulgent comfort foods using vegetables and other clean wholesome ingredients such as legumes, seeds and nuts. We differentiate ourselves from other popular food services such as Blue Apron & Plated by eliminating what we feel are unhealthy ingredients, using nut-based and olive-based fats, and sugars from the vegetables themselves." He explains his overall value proposition as being three fold: "1. Indulgent. Simply 'craveable' and uniquely delicious, we offer pure comfort food. 2. Healthy. Everything is under 500 calories, gluten-free, preservative-free, high in nutrients, fiber and good fats, and unless the grilled chicken option is chosen, 100% vegan. 3. Easy: All of our products are either ready-to-eat or can be cooked in under 7 minutes, and all remain naturally fresh for at least 7 days."
If you too are interested in upping your veggies and have seven minutes to spare before mealtime, Hungryroot might just be the solution you seek. Plus, when else can you eat a brownie and have it qualify as a vegetable? It's an American dream come true!