Many of us in the Phoenix metro area try to eat fresh, locally-grown foods when possible; but aside from dining out at locally supplied restaurants, the limited locations/times/food variety of farmers markets (as well as the often unfamiliar vegetables we’re not sure how to prepare) can make buying locally-made products just inconvenient enough to not do—or at least, to not do consistently. Chow Locally has set out to change that by making the process as easy as ordering a pizza online (but much healthier, thankfully).
The first of its kind in Arizona, Chow Locally is an online marketplace that allows customers to easily access the freshest seasonal foods grown by local ranchers and farmers. The site offers fruits and vegetables, eggs, meats, herbs, cookbooks and “other” items which may include locally-made sauces, oils, granola, flour, chips, etc. Currently credit cards are the only accepted form of payment, but they hope to expand to payment options in the near future.
Before starting Chow Locally in 2011, co-founders Christopher Wharton and Derek Slife came from very different backgrounds. Wharton had dedicated his academic career to researching nutrition and health promotion as well as local food systems and sustainability, earning a PhD and teaching position at Arizona State University. Wharton also held a postdoctoral research position at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, where he focused on food policy, food environment and obesity prevention.
Slife began writing code at 12 years old, and started his own custom software development company as a freshman at Northern Arizona University. After selling the successful company in 2001, Slife spent the next 10 years leading development teams in the corporate world before meeting Warton and dedicating his services to helping people gain better access to high quality, locally produced foods through Chow Locally.
About the Marketplace
Chow Locally’s Chow Share program is a subscription service where customers receive 7-10 varieties of the best local produce each week in one box. Additionally, these orders come with recipes, nutrition information and online cooking videos, so customers can make the most of their farm fresh produce. The Chow Share program costs $21.99 per week as a subscription, or $26.99 as a one-off purchase.
Chow Locally also offers custom orders so customers can buy exactly which fruits and vegetables they want, as well as eggs by the dozen, a variety of meats and more. Here’s a breakdown of Chow Locally’s life cycle:
- Sunday: Chow Locally’s group of local farmers post which foods they’ll have available for the week
- Sunday – Wednesday: Chow Locally immediately shares that info on the site, allowing customers to order what they want and choose their pickup location
- Thursday – Friday: Chow Locally sends the list of purchased food to local farmers, who harvest just enough food to fill the order. They deliver the goods to Chow Locally on Friday
- Saturday – Monday: Customers pick up their orders from the location they chose online, and the process starts all over again for the following week
There are currently more than 10 pickup sites around the Valley, and Chow Locally offers neighborhood communities, public businesses and corporate businesses the opportunity to coordinate additional pickup sites and expand Chow Locally’s reach. The company does not deliver currently, but is hoping to add this option soon.
More About Chow Locally
# of Employees: 7
Revenues: Self-funded, plus a $10,000 prize for winning National Bank of Arizona’s “Arizona’s Next Great Business” contest
Founders: Christopher Wharton, Derek Slife
Phone: 855 – CHOW – LOC
Headquarters: 1761 W. University Dr #141 • Tempe, AZ • 85281.