Tech startups create virtual farmers markets

  • In this Dec. 18, 2013 photo, Good Eggs community dispatcher Vanessa Casey, holds an order to be picked up by a Financial District customer in San Francisco. New online services are letting consumers buy fruits, vegetables, meats and artisan foods directly from local farmers and producers. Buyers can have their orders delivered or retrieve them at local pickup spots. These virtual farmers markets are changing the way people buy groceries and creating new markets for small farmers, ranchers, bakers and other food makers. San Francisco-based Good Eggs has built a fast-growing business connecting foodies and farmers in Northern California. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SAN FRANCISCO — Sara Pasquinelli doesn't shop at the grocery store much anymore. The busy mother of two young boys buys nearly all her food from a new online service that delivers to her front door — but it doesn't bring just any food.

The emerging tech startup specializes in dropping off items that Pasquinelli probably would only be able to find at her local farmers market.

Minutes after her weekly GoodEggs.com order arrived at her San Francisco home, Pasquinelli unpacked bags and boxes of finger limes, organic whole milk, kiwi fruit, beef short ribs, Dungeness crab and pastured eggs.

"I don't even remember the last time I went to the store for anything other than bananas and string cheese," said Pasquinelli, an attorney who started using the service about a year ago.

The San Francisco-based Good Eggs is among a new crop of startups using technology to bolster the market for locally produced foods that backers say are better for consumer health, farmworkers, livestock and the environment. These online marketplaces are beginning to change the way people buy groceries and create new markets for small farmers and food makers.

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