No more unhealthy packaged foods for office snacks! Farmer's Fridge Vending Machine offers healthy salads and more

By Hannah Doyle
December 10, 2014
Farmer's Fridge

Confession: There's a vending machine in the kitchen here at Shape. Yes, busy days, dollar bills, and packaged foods are a recipe for regret even in our office. (For a better idea, see these 25 Healthy Grab-and-Go Lunches.)

We're not the first to be disappointed by what plops out after the wheels turn. But Luke Saunders, Chicago-based traveling salesman-turned-entrepreneur, decided to do something about it. Enter Farmer's Fridge, an experiment to do the impossible and marry healthy food and vending machines. "I was planning my sales trips around where I can get food to eat," he says. "I thought, 'I'm spending so much time doing this, but there's got to be a better way.'"

Saunders' machine isn't stocked with "baked" chips or sugar bombs disguised as organic or gluten-free snacks. The grub offered at the touch of a button is bonafide, prepared-the-morning-of salads that meet all dietary restrictions (vegetarian! vegan!) and even offer additional protein toppings, like chicken, tuna, and tofu. For snacks, the machine boasts yogurt, veggies and hummus, and soon-to-debut cookie dough (that just so happens to be dairy-free and clocks in under 80 cals a pop).

Starting at $7, the food is offered in BPA-free plastic containers that Yelp reviewers (yes, it's evidently so satisfying that people felt a vending machine was worth reviewing!) say were sturdy enough to reuse later. Top it off with an altruistic appeal: They discount the salads by $1 after 6 p.m. and donate the leftovers to local food pantries so no food is wasted.

Now that we've got you salivating, we have to burst your bubble: You can only get your Farmer's Fridge fix in the Chicago area. (The windy city is all about upgrading their snack centers. See what changes they've already made with How Healthy Are "Healthy" Vending Machines?) But don't despair (or reach for the cheese curls), Saunders' plans to take his miraculous machines nationwide. "We're in the process of taking on a strategic plan to grow more quickly," he says. "Our goal is to get to 1,500 kiosks and I think it's totally doable."

While he's not sure how soon they'll be able to expand to an office near you, we'll be first in line when it reaches our neighborhood.