The Barn-sized Vending Machine

If we don’t have to go to the supermarket, how are we going to get our food? It’s going to look very different than what we have today.

Photo by Conner Baker on Unsplash

I imagine in the future we will pick (or get delivered) a subscription box that will contain all our basic needs in terms of food. It will be highly customizable and most importantly highly available.

Think of a barn-sized vending-machine fulfillment warehouses. Users will do their ordering using the internet, and will be able to schedule a delivery or pick up at the store. But before this can happen, here are some behaviors that will need to change before we can move to this future.

Last minute shopping fee

People are used to waste their time doing last minute grocery shopping. This can be adjusted by time-based market pricing like how airlines do. You get charged less if you order ahead of time, pay a premium if you are in a hurry. This will allow for more planned stocking and distribution, which reduces costs and waste.

Non-seasonal based diet

People are used to get avocados during winter. We pay a price in ecological terms for the transportation of goods from a long distance. This can be adjusted by adding extra cost for food produced further out of our place. This would go to conservation initiatives and agricultural research funds that would provide better solutions for local consumption.

Highly Processed/Convenient Food

People are used to eat their meals from a box. The race to the bottom from the food processors has considerably harm the consumers in terms of health and daily practices. People eat while driving in the highway, walk less, eat more empty calories, eat less macronutrients. Overall, we are eating ourselves to death. This can be adjusted with minimally processed alternatives. The return of the cafeteria. A food processing facility of low to mid range that can produce foods in a daily basis for those who can’t/won’t prepare their food from scratch. New processing facilities closer to the people, more in tune with the context. Add to this, a set of partially-cooked meals that require low effort to complete and still have a great nutritional value.

Second priority to local producers

Local producers should have priority over national industrial complexes.This incentivizes the creation of local food networks which in turn are committed and self-aware to the maintenance and care of the land and the community. I don’t advocate for tribalism but for inclusive local groups that are collaborative and involved in regional and national food networks. This can be adjusted with access to local markets to local producers, giving them a space, voice and access to the tools to modernize and share their operations. The new normal is a close communication with customers, but overall a sense of involvement in the forward progress of the new food system.

A new food system is cooking, and many of us are going to be responsible for shaping it for the next generations. What else do you think we should change before we can have a better food distribution system?