I learned a few things by buying food through buykind.com. In a nutshell:
* Buykind is a fledgling vegan food delivery service. Buykind contracts with vegan restaurants that have won awards for their food, and arranges for items from their menus to be made available for shipping all over the country. So far there are only six restaurants in the group, but obviously this kind of business should be able to expand fairly easily. The kind of attention that the owner gives to the business just might translate into success. Read her story on the website.
* Vegan foods are making their way into the wider marketplace. All of the wraps I purchased actually came from Nature's Express, based in Yuma, Arizona. These amazing plant-based deli foods, including many raw foods, are infiltrating their way into Whole Foods markets and other locations, including the restaurant from which I placed my order.
I decided that I wanted to order completely online, through the order form, rather than by email or by telephone. I also decided to save shipping costs by choosing a restaurant on the west coast. Only two restaurants on the list are on the west coast, and one doesn't yet offer online orders (but you can place your order by email or phone). So I chose the other, Good Karma in Venice Beach, California.
And that's why I ended up ordering wraps and spreads. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to order this kind of deli food by mail, but I wanted to try out the service. Fresh vegetable wraps, particularly featuring raw foods, don't tend to freeze well, so they need to be eaten soon after delivery. The other items on Good Karma's menu don't travel well and so are not offered, but believe me, the next time I am in Venice I'm hunting this place down (sweet potato fries!).
I placed my order Saturday night. I took a chance on the shipping costs because they are not included in the initial order but added later. I hope that it will be possible to spell out shipping costs more specifically on the website soon.
Jody, the buykind proprieter, called me almost immediately. She told me I could add additional items for the same shipping cost and told me what that cost would be. She said the order would be shipped out on Monday for delivery Tuesday, by ground. The order would be packed with ice packs and insulated materials so should be cold when I got it. I decided, then, to add to the order and chose additional wraps and spreads. I sent this information to Jody by email, who recalculated the total and sent me the paypal invoice.
On Tuesday Jody called me again. Somewhere along the way my order did not get processed. Good Karma had not packed it up and sent it along its way. Jody was tracking orders through her delivery service, KHL, and found that somehow my order was not on the truck. She asked if it would be okay to ship it Wednesday for delivery Thursday. I said sure. It's all a part of the experience. She said she would send me a gift certificate for $10 for my inconvenience, to be used on my next order.
The order arrived late in the day Thursday, as promised. Individual plastic containers held the wraps and the usual plastic bowls with lids contained the spreads. These were packed with ice packs and surrounded by strips of insulating material, which Jody notes is biodegradable. I am not sure about this part or I may have misunderstood her. The strips are like padded envelope material, except that they have a shiny (aluminum?) sheet on one side.
This is what the items looked like. This is where I saw Nature's Express and got curious, given that the address on the label is in San Diego, not Venice Beach. If you look closely at the label you can see that the ingredients are excellent. So too was this interesting Kale wrap:
Everything was fresh and inviting to look at. I will admit that I am not a big fan of the sliced meat substitutes, so the wrap I ate that had a kind of sliced chicken in it didn't overwhelm me. I was more impressed by the hummus in the kale wrap (not to mention the kale itself). The hummus is raw, made from cashews and something else I have forgotten, and it is creamy and delicious. I also had a barbecue tempeh, tofu pesto, and veg "chicken" tequila lime wraps. I haven't yet tried the spreads, which are made by Good Karma.
Overall, the experience and the food was good. I will use the $10 certificate to try something from another restaurant, something not a wrap. Although these wraps were good I really didn't want to work my way through five of them in a couple of days (although they make fine breakfasts).