Miami University’s marketplaces have a new kid on the block.
Farmer’s Fridge, a to-go meal chain focused on making “fruits and vegetables accessible and approachable for everyone,” launched in Emporium and MacCracken Market on March 27.
Founded 10 years ago by a traveling salesman frustrated with the lack of healthy to-go vending options, Farmer’s Fridge gained its popularity supplying salads and wraps in airport and hospital vending machines.
Now, Farmer’s Fridge has expanded to multiple Ohio colleges, including University of Cincinnati, whose Farmer’s Fridge partnership launched at the beginning of the month.
To-go meals are necessities for students on-the-go or late-night studiers who want a filling snack option after dining halls close. However, they can be somewhat pricey for students without meal plans, and options aren’t always the most fresh-tasting.
I frequented Emporium this past week for my lunchtime meals, trying various Farmer’s Fridge options and comparing them to my personal favorite to-go meals, such as the York Street southwest salad and (admittedly) Smuckers’ uncrustable sandwiches.
Pros: unique flavors, fresh tastes
What stood out to me immediately about Farmer’s Fridge was the richness of its flavor options. Baja bowls, napa chickpea wraps, Thai noodle bowls: each meal looked colorful, with fresh fruit and vegetable options that looked high-quality and appetizing.
For my first Farmer’s Fridge purchase, I tried the Harvest Salad: a blend of Arcadian lettuce, goat cheese, apples, pecans, sweet potatoes and couscous with a generously-sized packet of balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
I found the lettuce in the Farmer’s Fridge salad to be considerably more hydrated than the lettuce typically is in York Street salads, and the apple and sweet potato fragments made for a wonderful flavor profile.
I ate the meal just before a workout, and it was enough to power me through two hours in the gym, but I was quite hungry toward the end of my set. For my typical dietary needs, I would need a side dish for this salad to be a full lunch.
To me, the real highlight of the Farmer’s Fridge offerings were the wraps. After sampling both the napa chickpea and the turkey, apple and white cheddar wrap, I can attest the wraps were both filling and delicious.
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The turkey, apple and white cheddar wrap specifically had a wonderful smoky flavor, complemented by the juicy apple pieces and a yummy vegenaise, or vegan mayonnaise.
Additionally, the whole wheat tortillas were just the right consistency to not dominate the wrap.
Con: awkward packaging, high prices
Don’t let looks deceive you: It is quite impractical to mix a salad in a Mason jar.
The packaging is adorable, high-quality and accessible to open and shut, but when it comes to practicality, the Mason jar did not fare so well.
I shook my salad for a solid thirty seconds, and few ingredients had rotated. I had to eat about a quarter of the lettuce to create room to manually stir the ingredients.
Maybe I’m just bad at mixing salads, but I would recommend bringing a bowl or to-go container if you wanted to use one of these jars. Though, this sort of defeats the purpose of grab-and-go convenience in the first place: You should be able to eat it right out of the box.
Another con was how they packaged the goat cheese in my Harvest Salad. Stuck in a solid, unappetizing-looking block with couscous stuck to its sides, I struggled to get the goat cheese to spread throughout the salad.
After much effort, I ended up just tossing out the awkward goat cheese mound.
Additionally, while I found the food to be mostly delicious, each wrap and salad goes for about $8.50: a tad pricey for a college student budget.
While these prices are similar to what York Street options cost for students without meal plans, you cannot use a meal swipe for Farmer’s Fridge.
This was my main gripe: If Farmer’s Fridge products contained roughly the same amount and same type of food at the same price point, why can’t on-campus students use meal swipes for these?
If you’re wanting to-go meals on a budget, I would probably recommend to save on-campus markets for when you’re really in a pinch and opt for some of the $3.67 salad kits at Kroger.
The Farmer’s Fridge options are flavorful and a step in the right direction for providing high-quality to-go options on campus. If you’re interested in checking out something from the fridge, I would most encourage you to go for one of the wrap options. They’re filling, easy to eat on-the-go, and quite tasty.
While $8.50 is a somewhat steep price point for budget-conscious college students, it could be incorporated into a student diet as a weekly treat or (even better) included into the meal swipe program to make this option a bit more accessible.