Acme Farms + Kitchen brings a Northwest focus to the ingredient-delivery craze.
Food delivery has long been a blight on many an urbanite’s bank account. But if you keep your eye on Seattle doorsteps these days, chances are you’ll spot a new trend in culinary convenience: ingredient delivery. Meals still arrive at your home—you just have to cook them yourself.
Between large, national companies like Blue Apron, Plated and HelloFresh, ingredient delivery services have exploded in popularity. Now Bellingham-based Acme Farms + Kitchen offers boxes for those trying to eat local without the hassle of many-stop shopping. Everything you need to make several meals arrives in one box and all of it comes straight from local farmers, ranchers, fishermen and culinary artisans.
When Cara Piscitello and Joy Rubey launched Acme in Bellingham in 2011, their goal was to give people easy access to local food. Both women were architects and mothers of toddlers who met while looking at a daycare for their young daughters. As they lamented the time-suck that was shopping for quality food, a business idea struck. It began as an online marketplace for local, fresh foods. But there was one problem.
“It’s not enough to just buy local food—you have to cook it and eat it and not let it wilt in your fridge because you don’t know what to with it,” Piscitello says with laugh. They started making meal kits, collecting all the ingredients necessary for a simple, fresh recipe—which was also included.
“We’d always thought we’d have to shut down in the winter because there would be no demand and no food,” Piscitello says. “But by the time the winter rolled around people had gotten hooked on these kits.” That’s when they developed the locavore box, which put several meal kits together into one big box, delivered within Whatcom County.
The locavore boxes now come in 12 sizes and varieties, accommodating different dietary needs, such as vegetarian, paleo and gluten-free. They also offer boxes with supplementary items like bread, eggs, fruit and dairy.
Last June, Acme expanded to Seattle. The two-person team has since grown to 10 and they’re delivering about 500 boxes a week. The company’s expansion means they have to change the way the buy, though they still operate on handshake deals with their suppliers. As self-described “data nerds” they project the company’s needs and have deals lined up with farmers a year in advance—which is especially important with ranchers providing them with, say, 300 pounds of ground pork or 600 sirloin steaks. Planning this way provides suppliers with a reliable buyer of single items, giving them a steady income year-round. In turn, reliable relationships with suppliers allows Piscitello to develop the most seasonal, special recipes possible.
“A farmer will email me and say, ‘I’m going to have a ton of great peas coming in next week,’” Piscitello says. She then sets her mind spinning on a suitable recipe and the other ingredients she’ll need to pull together.
Shopping local doesn’t come cheap, but Acme’s locavore boxes are only slightly more expensive than their more corporate counterparts, many of whom source locally when possible but are more akin to Whole Foods than the farmer’s market. For three meals of two good-sized portions, Blue Apron clocks in at $60 per week, HelloFresh at $69, Plated at $72. Acme, whose meals are portioned to serve three-four people, will run you $75.
Acme Farms + Kitchen