Issue 538 November 2014

Member Profile: Rahmin Sarabi

Loves Cities, Loves Food

Urbanist Article November 10, 2014

Good Eggs was founded in the summer of 2011 in the Mission district of San Francisco. You can think of Good Eggs as an online farmers’ market, bringing the best quality groceries from farmers and foodmakers in your community right to you: everything from Tartine country loaves to prepared meals and seasonal produce. Folks can order online for delivery or pickup throughout the Bay Area.

Rahmin Sarabi leads Good Eggs’ Food Access and Community Development initiatives. “From the beginning, our mission has been to grow and sustain local food systems worldwide,” he explains. “Basically, I’m working to make local food accessible to people regardless of their age, income or background, and to strengthen the communities in which we operate.”

Good Eggs has been expanding to other cities of late.  In what ways do cities help (or hinder) your work?

Food is one of the deepest urban-rural connections.  With more people choosing to live in cities than ever before, strong local food systems depend on urban demand. It’s no surprise Good Eggs was birthed in San Francisco — a creative, urban environment that has maintained strong ties to the rural foodshed that feeds it. We now have foodhubs in four cities: New Orleans, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and San Francisco. We employ over 250 people and work with over 600 farmers and foodmakers. Eaters love us because they can get their favorite foods beyond the once-a-week visit to the farmers’ market and many foods they couldn’t access otherwise. Farmers and foodmakers love us for offering access to shoppers they wouldn’t reach, while also putting more of the retail dollar into their pocket than other channels.  In the Bay Area, Good Eggs delivers as far south as Mountain View, as far north as San Rafael and into the East Bay — and this includes many suburbs.  A business like Good Eggs does need density for the economics to work out. We’ll be exploring how far into the suburbs we can go over time.

How did you get interested/involved in food systems?

Short story: My dad had a heart attack when I was 13, and I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma when I was 21. My dad was flying back to Portland from a business trip in Austin when he had the telltale sign of pain shooting down his left arm. As they landed the plane mid-flight and rushed him to a hospital, my mom got a phone call sharing the news. It was a terrifying experience.  My dad walked away with minor damage to his heart, but our family’s relationship to food was colored with anxiety for years to come. Eat the wrong thing, and Dad could have a heart attack ... or, over time, I could.

Fast forward, a few months after college and newly arrived here, I picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’d already started eating more locally through farmers’ markets, driven by taste, and the book opened up my eyes to the realities of the industrial food system.  I gradually learned of the grace and integrity of local farmers and foodmakers — people who put their heart and soul into the food and care about so much more than the bottom line. I saw the impact this food had on my health, on the land and in the community through strengthened relationships and better labor practices. Like most everyone at Good Eggs, I could see that a world with stronger local food systems was a better world, a world worth working towards. 

What’s the most fulfilling part of your work?

Hearing from people in our community who are feeding their families better food, and from farmers & foodmakers who are growing sustainable businesses because of the work we’re doing.  

What’s your favorite city?

San Francisco. What is the adage, love the one you’re with?

Favorite food?

You can’t make me pick just one. We are spoiled daily with seasonal team lunches.

Favorite book and/or film about cities?

Can I have three?

“The City that Ended Hunger,” an article by Frances Moore Lappé

Urbanized, a film by Gary Hustwit

The Great Inversion a book by Alan Ehrenhalt

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