Is FreshDirect Good For You ?

Image Copyrights: The Gothamist

FreshDirect trucks plying all around the city is now a city staple. Like the yellow cab and the hotdog vendor it is part and parcel of New York life. When FreshDirect started out, it served Manhattan initially and slowly spread to the outer boroughs. This inspite of the fact that its warehouse and facilities are in Queens.

Since then it has followed an arbitrary pattern of opting neighborhoods into its delivery zone. Many parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx are not yet served by FreshDirect.

These are neighborhoods that FreshDirect deems underserved, or in plain terms…not worth the bother.

Bed-Stuy my old neighborhood is one such place. It borders Williamsburgh and Clinton Hill but FreshDirect wont go there. And this has riled a lot of residents, who are venting their frustration on this discussion board.

As one poster to the board writes

….they had the nerve to have a subway ad in the Myrtle-Willoughby train station and they don’t even deliver here!….And what’s more insulting is that I think some of the people around here actually WORK for Fresh Direct! Evil or Very Mad Fresh Direct can go directly to hell.

Having ordered from FreshDirect initially when they started out, I was baffled by the number of boxes they used to pack things. Groceries worth 40$ came in 5 boxes. And after I unpacked, I had to discard the boxes. There was no system of returning them to FreshDirect to be recycled.

Also the trucks park all over my neighborhood and are idling all the time. Each delivery takes about 10-15 minutes from the time the driver stops to the time he pulls out of his illegal double parking spot. Is an idling diesel engine good for the environment. I can understand that it is necessary that the refrigeration units stay chilled but that does not mean that I, living on the first floor breathe the exhaust directly aimed at my window. And all that because one of my neighbors wants to eat healthy.

As much as organic healthy food is necessary for a nation of people battling obesity and all kinds of related health conditions, FreshDirect may not be right answer. At what cost does one demand convenience ?

12 Comments so far

  1. Josh (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

    I’m having an internal battle with myself about whether to use FD or not. Two of the supermarkets that I frequent just reorganized, and I’m hopelessly lost in them. Combine that with the fact that I don’t really have a set shopping list, and I just wind up getting frustrated.

    I can definitely see the advantage of food shopping in my pajamas, with all my recipes at my fingertips, but I just can’t bring myself to hit the submit button. I prefer to hold and squeeze and smell my food prior to purchase.

  2. J$ (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    The Fresh Direct boxes can be recycled whereas at a supermarket they will give you way more plastic bags than is necessary and those can’t be recycled. The idling trucks are a problem (they should switch to all electric or hybrids!).

    The fact is though, in Manhattan, the supermarkets are mostly crap. Dirty, tiny, mazelike, and most of all expensive. $1.69 2L sodas, $6.99 cartons of ice cream. FD makes food shopping very quick and easy, particularly since you can shop from your past orders and reasonably priced. Plus they bring it right into your apartment, which is a huge plus in a walkup or if you need to buy a lot of heavy items.

    There are some items better purchased in a supermarket because it’s preferable to touch or see them (tomatoes, avocados, etc) but most items it doesn’t really matter much.

  3. gracekelly (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 3:19 pm


    I just learned from an acquitance of mine that FD is about to get a competition, which will be environmentally better than FD, and will not use as many boxes as FD. They opened a forum for discussion with their customers, so go check it out.

  4. KipEsquire (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 10:04 am

    What does organic have to do with it? I unapologetically use FreshDirect and have never bought anything “organic.”

    If FD trucks park illegally then they run the risk of getting ticketed, in which case their profits decline. You have a problem with this?

    If they idle, then they burn more fuel, in which case their profits decline. You have a problem with this?

    People use FD because it is a superior service. If it ceases to be a superior service, then people will stop using it. Behold “greedy” capitalism, which so many New Yorkers love to hate.

    Meanwhile, the fact that you find FD “wasteful” is irrelevant, except to the extent that you choose not to use it. Why not just declare that ice cream, which ruins the environment by requiring refrigeration, is “wasteful” and ban it too?

  5. arZan (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 10:17 am

    Josh, J$, and Grace Kelly, thank you all for your insight and comments.

    Kipesquire, thanks for the propoganda. It’s obvious that you work for FD, or have friends or family who do. I heard that they might have an opening in their marketing department. Want to apply ??

  6. nator (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 11:56 am

    I followed the link to and really liked what these guys are doing. Sounds like a good concept and their approach is to ask potential customers what they like. They don’t ask for any info upfront and the founder really responds to posted comments.

  7. Noah (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

    It seems the idling engines are a concern, but more traditional gorcery chains probably have just as much idling, if not more. Large chains schedule deliveries to individual stores in small time blocks throughout the day in order to stay lean and keep productive, but there is inevitably weight times and idling, it is just that FreshDirect is more visible to the consumer, as opposed to a meandering line of trucks behind a massive A&P in cental Connecticut.

  8. arZan (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 1:15 pm


    FD also has a warehouse which I am sure is supplied by big trucks. The delivery trucks are on top of that.

    The intent of the post is not to diss FD completely. I just feel that its not the paraiah of goodness that it is made out to be. As much as the positives are exemplary, the negatives are not write offs. And for me they are a dealbreaker.

  9. Noah (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    Fair enough, Arzan. I respect and agree with the point.

    It seems more and more of these grocery stores and services who position their brand as more “natural” or “wholesome” are not what they seem… Whole Foods is the same way. They may have fresh food, but I see their trucks all over, and they waste paper on pamphlets and marketing materials like it is going out of style.

  10. ilya (unregistered) on February 1st, 2007 @ 11:20 am

    Disclaimer: i am the founder and President of Bread-n-Brie, a new company that will launch within weeks to rival FD in terms of quality and service. I found this blog through a search engine and wanted to contribute.

    I see a lot of criticism of FD in the online community. I understand that some of it cannot be avoided from the customer-provider relationship. But at the same time, as a frequent user of FD, i do believe that a lot of it is justified. That’s why our first step was to invite New Yorkers to our pre-launch discussion board to express their vision and wishes for a new company. So please visit us at and help us shape the company to best reflect the ideas of the community it will delivery to.

  11. N. Rodriguez (unregistered) on February 7th, 2007 @ 11:48 pm Discriminates!!!

    FreshDirect is the most convenient way to shop for groceries in NYC…unless you live in a Public Housing building- they won’t deliver to you!

    I attempted to order from FreshDirect on two separate occasions, both times using addresses for Public Housing buildings. After having my orders rejected by their website due to their inability to deliver to the addresses, I decided to test the site with different addresses throughout Manhattan (privately owned residential buildings, corporate office buildings and city owned residential buildings a.k.a. Public Housing) to see which addresses were accepted for delivery. Note: I am fully aware that there delivery is sometimes limited (so indicated by the asterisk on the zip code list found in their website.)

    Since I know several different people who live in Public Housing throughout the city, I tested the FreshDirect service with some of those addresses. Some of the zip codes I used were 10002, 10025, 10026, and 11101. I started with 11101 (Long Island City – about 10 minutes from the FreshDirect warehouse) – I was shocked when this address was rejected, being located in such close proximity. When I called customer service, they explained the limited delivery and I pointed out that the website didn’t indicate this zip code had limited delivery. The only thing they could do was give me a lame apology for the inconvenience. I again attempted to place an order (this time for my 84 year old grandmother) using the 10025 zip code and, again, the address was rejected for delivery. This is when I decided to investigate this a bit further because; the 10025 address was rejected even though a block away, I have personally witnessed FreshDirect trucks making deliveries to privately owned residential buildings two blocks away on Central Park West, on Amsterdam Avenue, 100th Street, 103rd St., 96th St., etc. The same happened with the 10002 address, except they deliver to a privately owned residential building less than a block away. The 10026 address was also rejected, although, again, they deliver a few blocks away in the same zip code.

    Ironically, I recently received a postcard from with a $50 dollar coupon to try their services….I won’t be able to use it because I too live in Public Housing and they won’t deliver to me!

    I don’t see why their delivery areas are limited in such a peculiar way. I cannot believe that of all the residential addresses I entered, the only ones that are not part of FreshDirect’s delivery areas all happen to be City owned Public Housing buildings. ISN’T THIS CONSIDERED


    Why does FreshDirect REFUSE to deliver to individuals residing in Public Housing???? UPS, FEDEX, DHL, USPS and many other companies deliver to them.

    I think this NEEDS to be investigated. As a matter of fact…it MUST be investigated. How dare they refuse service to so many individuals! We’re in 2007…and DISCRIMINATION is apparently ALIVE AND WELL IN FRESHDIRECT!

  12. sara (unregistered) on February 12th, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

    Well I like their services and the prices/quality is great, especially for nyc prices and just so so so so convenient.

    my zip is 10017 and i have no problems.

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