July 20, 2024


Welcome to the Food

Why Daily Harvest became my go-to meal delivery service

Like many people, my food insecurity got pretty serious in April 2020. Cities and businesses all across America were shutting down, while grocery stores and delivery services started to run out of food. Everywhere I looked — whether it was Amazon, Instacart, Uber Eats or FreshDirect — it seemed impossible to find a reliable source of fruits and vegetables. I looked at my dwindling supply of canned soups and packets of ramen and almost wept.

Now, I know I’m immensely fortunate compared to a lot of people to be able to even consider my access to fresh food during the height of the pandemic. I know that there are people for whom a supply of canned food would have been a godsend, not to mention fruits and vegetables. That said, I think a lot of people can also identify, and felt the need to stock up.

Even as scarcity eased, I wanted to have a reliable source of fresh meals just in case we had to lock down again. I looked at delivery services like Blue Apron, Sunbasket and Purple Carrot. As a single person living on her own, I didn’t want to get too much food that would just spoil in my fridge. I also preferred meals that were ready made, rather than deal with raw meats.

My preference for convenient preparation limited the selections, and I narrowed down my options to Daily Harvest, Revive Superfoods and CookUnity. These companies all offered significant discounts on my first deliveries, and I rotated through them each week.

All three provided delicious, fresh food that was easy to prepare, and I appreciate that they all made an effort to use sustainable packaging. Daily Harvest’s packaging was almost 100 percent paper, with CookUnity a close second. The latter used plastic wrap on top of paper boxes for meals, with plastic containers for sauces, and meals were delivered in insulated bags that you could return with your next delivery. Daily Harvest, meanwhile, mostly used bowls made from molded pulp, as well as recyclable paper cups or pods where possible. Revive Superfoods also does a respectable job, with recyclable paper cups and plastic lids.

As my dietary needs shifted to focus on more protein instead of prioritizing fresh vegetables and fruit, it was critical that I could look up each meal’s nutritional info before my weekly orders. Again, all three websites offered at least basic data on macros and ingredients. The last time I ordered, only CookUnity allowed me to filter my searches by calorie count, which was one of my concerns at the time.

CookUnity also had an advantage in that it offered the greatest variety of meals, while Revive was the most limited in its options. I also loved that CookUnity’s food was chef-prepared and usually had more balanced macros. But they needed to be consumed within two to three days, while Daily Harvest’s and Revive’s could be stored in the freezer.

Ultimately, I quit Revive and CookUnity for the same reason. Both companies started to restrict how long you could skip upcoming deliveries, and trying to stay on top of my schedule got trickier and trickier. The tighter windows meant I had to check in to each service every two weeks to make sure I skipped an order, as opposed to a couple of months.

Daily Harvest meal kit service food bowls filled with vegetables on circular tables next to a glass of water.

Daily Harvest meal kit service food bowls filled with vegetables on circular tables next to a glass of water.

Daily Harvest, on the other hand, lets you skip up to nine weeks of upcoming deliveries, the company also sends you a reminder before it bills your account. It gives you ample time to consider if you need the food that week and cancel if you feel like it. Daily Harvest also provides helpful information about how its vegan meals taste, giving you a comparison to something more familiar.

That’s an important feature, by the way, since Daily Harvest’s meals are often vegetarian versions of other dishes. My favorites are the “Kimchi fried rice” made with riced cauliflower, the lentil-and-tomato bolognese and the spinach and shitake grits with nutritional yeast. Each of these consists of a handful of simple, mostly organic ingredients, and basically everything I’ve tried tastes fantastic. I loved the Broccoli and Cheeze bowl, the vegetable-crust flatbreads, the assortment of dessert bites, the vegan ice creams (especially the salted black sesame swirl) and the lattes, too. The only thing I didn’t really like was the chocolate and hazelnut smoothie, but only in comparison to something similar from Revive Superfoods.

I also generally picked bowls because they’re the easiest to prepare — just add a little water (you can skip this step) and throw it in the microwave. Many of the other options require either a blender or using your oven.

You can tell from everything I’ve mentioned, though, that Daily Harvest has a wide variety of food to offer. I haven’t even mentioned the breakfast-friendly forager bowls, the soups and the newly launched “Crumbles,” which are meant to provide a protein punch. Just looking at the menu again has me itching to send in an order for things I haven’t tried yet, like the Matcha and Murasaki bites.

In the end, though lots of meal delivery services can send you great-tasting food, few actually do so with the thoughtful approach of Daily Harvest. I don’t love that the prices of some of its dishes and lattes have increased in the last year, but at least it’s been very up front about these changes. I’ve received email notifications delineating exactly what was getting more expensive and when, as well as an explanation for the change.

I’ve since canceled my Revive and CookUnity accounts, not without hassle, by the way. After a few rounds of back-and-forth emails with customer service, Revive finally agreed to deactivate my account, rather than delete it and remove my payment and delivery details from their servers like I asked. CookUnity, meanwhile, simply had the typical process of offering you a discount and asking you to answer some questions after you manage to find the Cancel Subscription link. But at least I was able to actually cancel my subscription without having to talk to customer service.

Revive still emails me daily asking me to “Come back for more at 50% off” or “Reactivate with a 50% off offer” even after repeated emails in September and October saying “LAST CHANCE! Come back and save 40% x 2!” Typical marketing bluster, I know, but still annoying given I had asked in writing for them to lose my info. CookUnity’s last email to me was in January 19th, 2022, and when I signed back into my account, it showed me “Your subscription was canceled =(“

I haven’t gotten a box from Daily Harvest in months, because these days I’ve been trying out a few more new services like Better Bagel, Farmer’s Fridge and Huel. So far I’ve loved the quality of food for the first two, and Huel is a little less appetizing. Regardless of the new options I add to my roster, I’m more than happy to keep ordering from Daily Harvest. Delicious, fresh food, a well-designed website and thoughtful customer service? Take my money.