Driving up to Veritable Vegetable in the iconic and distinctive Woolman vans, I was not at all excited. It was a hot California day and as I stepped out of the car I was faced with hot pavement, cars, and a warehouse. This was not the image that I was expecting to be presented with on our Food Intensive, which so far had consisted of feedlots, organic farms, and lots of produce. At first glance, it was nothing short of underwhelming, and as our guide led our group into a conference room, I was anything but jazzed. This seemed like just another typical company with typical policies feeding into the ever growing, ever more pervasive capitalist hierarchy. Boy was I wrong.
Veritable Vegetable is probably the coolest produce transporter since ever. They transport exclusively from organic growers and bring their produce to restaurants, grocery stores, institutes, and other places in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. Their trucks are on the highest end of sustainable technology, and they map out their routes in order to be as energy efficient as possible. While of course wanting to run a successful business, all their decisions are made based on a set of core values that focus on healthy working conditions, helping the environment, and the support of their growers as well as the communities they service. People from many levels and job descriptions help make important decisions in order to help make things fair. Their staff is 60% women, and the difference in pay between the CEO and the workers doing manual labor is never more than a 5 to one ratio. They rock hard.
Yet those facts, which anyone could find by just looking at their website, don’t even compare to the experience of walking through their operations. As Woolman students and staff were led into the main warehouse, we were met with funky music blasting from wall to wall, and both men and women of all ethnicities, ages, and appearances working the floor. Our guide (who was way cool) took us on a tour of some of the different coolers where they keep produce, and explained exactly what the journey would be for all the mushrooms, bananas, peppers, and other tasty treats that filled each ice box. As we danced our way through the warehouse, jamming out to Veritable’s sweet beats, our leader talked to us about alternatives to wooden pallets and plastic wrap that were being used on a trial basis to help the environment. Then we took a look inside of their trucks, and a few of us took a try at screaming our lungs out in one of their storage spaces, which was so thick that no one could hear us. We asked a lot of questions, and got some honest answers.
Finally, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we went back to the conference room we started off in, where we were greeted with two huge bowls of strawberries. It was magical. I was and still am completely hooked on Veritable Vegetable, and I wish that for every food producer, there was such a rad transport company. I would love to work there someday, and would love to see more companies move in their direction. However, until then, I’m happy to know a place so hip and cool exists. So the next time you’re in Briar Patch or another California marketplace, take a minute and find out if your vegetable are veritable.