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28 December 2007 @ 03:23 pm
Online groceries, again  
Looking at the online grocery possibility again, at least for a few items. Safeway.com and Amazon Fresh are always in the comparison, even if Fresh doesn't deliver to my house yet. Two additional options are spud.com (mentioned on eatwild.com which was mentioned in a book I'm reading) and Pioneer organics (suggested by pullthestars and torquemada). Thinking of grocery services in terms of price, availability, and the ineffable "quality", I decided to do a first-pass analysis of price and availability based off of a recent order made at Safeway.com. When the same thing was only available in a different size, I factored the size difference into the price comparison. the spreadsheet with results is at http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pXeFFJ40oQY25NnvwEDVACg

No, this doesn't include any produce. We'll continue getting produce from the local produce stand, so it would be silly to include them in this comparison. This order did include stocking up on meat during a Safeway meat sale, so Safeway should have a slight advantage in meat pricing.

For "quality" comparisons, I dug into the background information for each seller's beef, as this subject is dear to my stomach.

Safeway: You know Safeway. Safeway.com has the highest floor for free delivery - you end up paying an $8-$10 delivery fee if your order is less than $250. Also, since Safeway.com is just a thin wrapper around a "personal shopper", you will often get unasked-for substitutions for out-of-stock items. Little information is available about the beef, beyond the label Rancher's Reserve (generic industrial angus). Has the distinct advantage of low priced house brands, but inflates the perceived "house brand" savings by simply not carrying brands that closely compete with the house brand price.

Amazon Fresh: closest to Safeway in selection and pricing (except for beef), but delivery is lacking. Most beef is Creekstone Farms (humane, some pasture but mostly corn-fed beef) or Omaha Steaks (generic indusrial beef) . Beef pricing higher than Safeway, closer to Organic and Pasture-fed pricing. No nutritional information on the website.

SPUD.com: Effectively, an online Farmer's Market. Free deliveries over $35 on Thursdays (in my zip code). HQ in SODO, should I wish to complain in person. Definite drop in selection compared to Safeway and Fresh, so I doubt this could make a viable grocery store replacement. Bread and dairy seem to be most of the same local brands you will find at Central Market, at similar prices. Beef pricing is decent, coming from Thundering Hooves (grass-fed, pasture finished, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic, etc.). Links provided to all upstream food providers, ingredients posted on website, special icons for "local" providers. Pricing varies WILDLY by provider.

Pioneer Organics: Seems to be an attempt at an online Whole Foods. Seattle office in SODO. Free deliveries over $42 on Wednesdays (in my zip code). Least selection of any store I examined. Website provides ingredient list, names of upstream food providers, icon for "NorthWest" providers. Search engine broken through ~12 tests, never finding any results. Beef is from Silver Springs("vegetarian diet", "kept on" pastures, but notably not "pasture fed". "organic" used in 1 jpeg, but not otherwise found on site).

As an aside, Pioneer Organics and Silver Springs managed to trigger ALL of the innate distrust I feel for "Big Organic". If I'm still with Amazon when they move to SLU, I'll be avoiding Whole Foods.
theda on December 29th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
I have used Pioneer for over two years now and love the hell out of it.
Thom Marrionxnbach on December 29th, 2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
Used Pioneer a couple of times and never had any complaints, I'd go with them if I were you.