Farmer’s Fridge: Fresh food vending machines

Farmer’s Fridge is a vending machine — with a twist. Instead of pre-packaged goods, students can buy fresh products like salads, wraps, pasta, pudding and even hard-boiled eggs.

The fridges are open 24 hours a day, allowing for a quick, convenient and healthy option at any time of day.

It’s both practical and refreshing. If someone  is wary of buying perishable food from a vending machine, fear not. Just like food at a normal grocery store, each product has a “best before” date that indicates when the product will taste the best.

Most of the food is packaged in small jar-like containers, providing you with not only a fresh snack but also a reusable container. Also, if you order a meal that requires a fork or spoon, don’t worry. The vending machine also provides free utensils.

We went to the fridge that is located in the corridor connecting the Richardson Library and the Schmitt Academic Center. It’s the only Farmer’s Fridge on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.

The fridge was nearly empty by the end of the day, but we managed to snag a baja chicken wrap and a Thai noodle bowl.

The wrap was definitely better than other wraps that you buy on the go at supermarkets or coffee shops. You know the kind: under-portioned, overpriced and dry, yet you buy it anyway because you are out of options and do not have time to wait for hot food.

Don’t let the vending machine scare you away, because the wrap tasted surprisingly fresh. It was filling, the tortilla was still soft and the wrap had the right amount of sauce and chicken inside.

The noodle bowl was packaged in one of the Farmer’s Fridge jars. The jars are convenient in a pinch, but if you have access to a traditional bowl, we would recommend transferring the contents into a bigger container. The ingredients of the bowl were stacked on top of each other in layers, making it a little tricky to mix and evenly distribute.

Packaging aside, the Thai noodle bowl was very tasty. It was a smaller portion than we would normally eat, but the sesame and ginger flavoring mixed well with the medley of vegetables inside including zucchini, tomato, green peppers, carrots and red cabbage.

The next morning, we were able to find berries & granola greek yogurt and chocolate chia pudding.

The pudding was creamy and could have worked as a breakfast snack or dessert. It smelled exactly like strawberry ice cream. The parfait was juicy and crunchy, with a perfect combination of flavors ranging from apples to granola. 

However, the vending machine is not as inexpensive as standard vending machines. Prices are slightly higher than what college students would consider cheap.

The prices range between $5 and $11.

The fridges do provide healthier alternatives. However, with the fridge being almost completely empty, it appears that it is a hit with some students.

Because the farmer fridge is located on campus, its hours vary: 

Mon-Thu: 12-2 a.m., 7:30 a.m.-11:59 p.m.

Fri: 12-2 a.m., 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sat: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sun: 10 a.m.-11:59 p.m.

Farmer’s Fridge products go beyond vending machines. You can order online by downloading the Farmer’s Fridge app. You can also buy individual products at your local grocery stores and retailers.

If you’re hesitant to buy anything but chips and candy from a vending machine, don’t be. There are fresh quality options that you can get from the new age of vending machines.