GreenChoice allows you to filter online grocery stores according to your values
Galen Karlan-Mason grew up in Vermont with his own garden and solar panels, and he shopped at the local co-op and farmer’s market. He felt connected to his food choices and his parents had instilled in him the idea that his daily choices are “mini-votes for the world we want to live in”. But as a graduate student, he found that grocery shopping became a daunting task: trying to buy items within the parameters of his food allergies and values, Karlan-Mason would end up spending so much time standing in the aisle, to research each product. on the bookshelf.
“I would always leave with the feeling that I had compromised on something,” he says. This experience prompted him to launch GreenChoice, an online marketplace that allows users to filter items based on their diet (vegan, gluten-free, low sodium, or a range of allergies) and by their values. , such as organic, with a low carbon footprint. , or even no palm oil.
GreenChoice originally launched in 2019 as a mobile app to help people make in-store purchasing decisions. It’s now an online marketplace where users can shop from Walmart, Target, or Walgreens and filter their choices based on over 90 food preferences or values. GreenChoice will also assess the carbon footprint of your order plus shipping costs and offset this total by investing in wind power and reforestation projects.
To start shopping on GreenChoice, you need to create an account and take a quiz, which asks if you are following a certain diet – vegetarian, keto, low in FODMAP (a diet often recommended for managing IBS) – or if you have. allergies, and rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the importance you place on four different values: nutrition, processing, food safety and the environment. The site shows you the best choices for your values, and each product has a GreenScore out of 100, the average of the item’s score in each of these four areas. The information for all of this comes from the FDA, EPA, Worth Health Organization, United States Department of Agriculture, and scientific studies.
Look for something like “granola bars,” and you can filter out any allergens or additional ingredients that you want to avoid. When you look at a particular item, the site shows you how well it scored in each GreenChoice area. An option may have a high environmental score due to its low carbon footprint, for example, but a poor processing score due to the use of refined oils. Below all of this, the site will list all the alternatives that have higher ratings.
“There are a growing number of consumers who want to make healthy choices and vote with their money, but they don’t know where to start or what to trust,” says Karlan-Mason. In a typical grocery store, you might be faced with an entire aisle of granola bars or an entire wall of egg cartons without any breakdown of ingredients or information on what words like “cage-free” really mean. People can be overwhelmed by these choices, as well as the words greenwashing or “health” on food packaging. GreenChoice aims to restrict your grocery shopping so that you only see products that match the way you want to eat.
You don’t have to be a paid member to make purchases, but there are membership tiers. For $ 10 per month, users get unlimited access to the entire product database (3000 items can be purchased through GreenChoice, but with this membership level, users can view nutritional reviews and of 300,000 items, even if they cannot order them directly). These members will also avoid the service charge of $ 3.50 per order and get more detailed information on why an item has achieved a GreenChoice rating, for example, what specific processed ingredients are included or the names of any toxic additives. . Higher levels add options to get a personalized snack box or chat live with dietitians.
Not everyone wants that level of detail about their food, admits Karlan-Mason – but some do, and they maybe shop the way he used to, phoning in a grocery aisle, looking for so many information as possible. You may not be able to replace all your purchases or searches with GreenChoice – when searching for coffee, for example, there is no way to filter by ‘fair trade’, and the environmental score is only for the a product’s carbon and water footprint, not its packaging (Karlan-Mason has hinted that a plastic offset may be coming soon, but it’s unclear if this will correlate with the type of waste your purchases produce) – but it aims to at least eliminate some label reading and research from the task of stocking your pantry.