Back in the 1970s, long before organic living became the preferred lifestyle for so many in this country, the San Francisco Bay Area was home to a vibrant, locally grown food network focused on procuring healthy food products. This system, called the People’s Food System, created an alternative to the dominant food system in place at the time. Nearly 40 years later, San Francisco has moved this alternative system into the mainstream. Throughout this entire period, Veritable Vegetable (VV) has continued to move organic produce, becoming the nation’s oldest organic produce company.
Veritable Vegetable provides full service distribution of organic fresh fruits and vegetables to retailers, restaurants, schools, corporate campuses and wholesalers. Located in San Francisco, VV’s distribution area covers California and includes parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. In addition to providing leadership in establishing and expanding the organic agriculture industry, VV focuses on utilizing green technologies to reduce energy consumption and waste at every level of the company, including its truck fleet, and for those efforts, the company has been named Fleet Owner’s 2012 Green Fleet of the Year.
As distribution became a critical part of the People’s Food System, Veritable Vegetable was founded to meet that need, distributing produce from farms to various buying clubs around the city. “The movement started with people participating in buying clubs in different neighborhoods,” relates Mary Jane Evans, CEO & one of three co-owners of Veritable Vegetable. “As people’s participation grew, the size of the buying clubs overwhelmed the garages the clubs were operating out of, and they had to become storefronts.” The People’s Food System eventually grew to 11 storefronts. Throughout its growth, though, a need developed—to bring produce from farm to fork, as they say.
“I began working with the company in the fall of ’76 and we kind of re-founded the company,” Evans remembers. “Veritable Vegetable started when distribution became a component of the People’s Food System, hauling food from farms to warehouses and storefronts. We really started to understand organic agriculture and the need to get produce to market. The idea was to support organic farmers by moving their product to the stores.”