In an exclusive interview, the CEO & Founder of Fresh City, Ran Goel answered our questions about the company and what’s is like to be a city farm & retailer of organic, sustainable, and local food.
September 29, 2021
Innovation , News , Sales tax recovery
My name is Ran Goel, I’m the founder and CEO of Fresh city, a company based in Toronto. We have our own farms. We process, we make a lot of our meals from scratch, and we deliver through the GTA to several thousand homes as well as small storage stores and local stores.
Ultimately, what we’re about is creating a better food system, one that is healthier, juster, and more delicious. We source primarily from organic farms, but also farms that produce sustainably. For example, 100% grass-fed operations. We focus on fair trade. We focus on various human standards. Ultimately, we try to create a better life through food.
I was actually practicing law in New York City before starting Fresh city, as a hedge fund, private equity fund lawyer in a big Wall Street firm. The more I started reading about The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan in my spare time, the more I became obsessed with this idea of food as this platform for change, as a way to create a positive change. Whether it’s what we put in our mouth, in our family’s mouth, for it’s healthier, but also all the impact on how we make our food; from the impact on animals, impact on the environment, impact on workers.
When I started Fresh city, at the core, was the idea that we can create an alternative food system. There is not a good reason why all these negative effects related to producing our food and distributing our food had to continue and I started Fresh city as an urban farm. So we farm in Toronto, in Downsview Park. While we became more than just a farm, that’s still the heart of our DNA in terms of the change that we want to see in the food system.
We are very entrepreneurial. Farming is one of the most innovative things to do, especially when you want to do it sustainably. Farmers need to be farmers, accountants, and chief marketing officers. They need to do everything top to bottom. They are the same person who is smiling at you at the farmers’ market in the afternoon, who harvested in the morning. All that led itself to this organisational culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. So I think that is part of it.
I also think that we thought that it was our moment, in the sense that our community needed us. Many people relied on us to feed their families. But it was also a time to highlight what we were doing and why we were doing it. There was this moment in time when we needed to speak about justice, equity, and health in a way that resonated with people. At the time where essential workers were critical, that the local food was becoming critical, that we were talking about growing our own food and cooking from scratch, it came to the fore of the pandemic.
As for the last couple of years, the online grocery world has changed significantly, especially in the last year. At the time, we were a very small predator in this online grocery market, so it has been the question of how can we do, what can we provide from our kitchen to our customer, which channel to use: online delivery, creating an app or open grocery store. But we trying to find a way to incorporate more online options and staying true to our values along the way.
We definitely value our customer relationship and we always trying better ways to communicate and engage with them by letting them having access to recipes or organizing workshops for example. Especially sharing educational messages around sustainability. That’s will for sure be our focus for this year by continue developing more products and services for our customers.
The key for us will be to stay always strong and true to our values by letting people access our product easily and sharing even more messages around sustainability. We definitely set an industry standard by creating “jars” by using less packaging and make it more sustainable.
I will say bringing awareness toward sustainability and sharing our values we have from the beginning through our relationship with our customers or supplier.
Discover more about Fresh City House-made items including their bulk pantry items. You can also discover more about the others brand of the company: Mabel’s House-made items and Healthy Butcher offering.
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