Healthy habits can be hard to embrace, especially when it comes to eating. Convenience and cost are handy excuses a lot of us rely on when we end up grabbing some greasy grub to go instead of a healthier option.
A pair of enterprising UBC grads, athletes, and burgeoning green thumbs were once those guys, too.
Deciding they wanted to make getting their daily dose of veggies as easy as possible, Michael Steele and Tonner Jackson started drinking smoothies, and blending up their leafy greens and more. Realizing others might share their plight, the duo have launched a business called Smoothie Veggies, that takes locally-grown organic produce and portions it into single-serving packets that go from your freezer to blender in seconds flat.
Fresh veggies come with a shelf life, so consumers who aren’t feeding more than a mouth or two a day can find it hard to buy in bulk, or make it to the farmers’ market or grocery store multiple times per week. With so many Canadians not getting their daily intake of veggies, Jackson and Steele knew they weren’t alone in their struggle. Both were turning to their smoothies to fuel their active lives, acting as a boost or even meal sub between classes, games, and practices.
Particularly if you aren’t a fan of piling the veggies onto your dinner plate or ordering salads, Steele and Jackson agree that smoothies were the best way for them to mainline all the nutrients that veggies pack.
To get Smoothies Veggies going, they researched which veggies would be accessible year-round in the local growing climate, as well as which ones would blend well, taste-wise, with common favourite smoothie ingredients. The result is a base 600-gram Smoothie Veggies packet containing enough kale, swiss chard, and mint to equal three and a half servings of vegetables.
Initially they turned to their backyard to literally grow their business. They planted their first crops earlier this year, and soon began to reap the rewards of tapping into green thumbs. Knowing that they couldn’t sustain a client base from behind their home, they headed back to UBC to team up with the Farm crew, who have pledged to keep them in their three core crops.
Still, Steele says he’s developed a “sense of personal ownership” when it comes to his new-found ability to grow and eat his own fresh food. The business partners both say that there has been an added “emotional resonance” to the process of whirring up daily smoothies using their own fresh veggies–and, yes, the guys both drink a smoothie every day.
When it comes to their favourite smoothies, Jackson says he’s partial to the Roald Dahl, which is peach-based, and Steele loves the Diesel Monster, which is made with peanut butter, chocolate protein, milk, banana, and, of course, a packet of Smoothie Veggies. There’s a recipes section on their site, to help with smoothie ingredient inspiration, too.
Jackson and Steele hope that they can tap into a market of like-minded consumers who are keen to eat more veggies, if it could be faster and easier. They bundle the Smoothie Veggies packets into sustainable packaging for the week-long kits, and deliver the boxes right to the customer’s doorstep each Sunday (right now their core delivery area is UBC, the West End, Downtown, and into East Vancouver).
As the business grows, the guys hope to not only expand their delivery area, but also expand their subscription offerings, as well as branch out to add different veggie combos.