We’re always looking for ways to lower our diet’s environmental impact. But there are other values involved in choosing what to eat, such as supporting regenerative farming by small farmers and choosing healthy foods. Nutrition for Longevity, a New Jersey meal delivery company, offers an excellent blend of sustainable farming techniques, delicious and healthy meals, and progress toward recyclable packaging.

Meal delivery is sustainable? Yes, when practiced effectively, home delivery can — but is not guaranteed to — produce less CO2 than food that has been packaged, wrapped, and unwrapped several times before it hits the shelves at your local grocers. In addition, except for some locally grown produce, most grocery store food is produced by industrial farming practices that have destroyed soil around the world. Nutrition for Longevity takes several steps out of the e-commerce equation by preparing and packaging its food at the farm. So while food’s transportation footprint is an important consideration, the opportunity to support regenerative farming practices is also an important consideration when choosing your food.

We choose to accept some of the downsides of e-commerce in favor of supporting farming practices that restore the soil and pay fair wages to workers.

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Nutrition for Longevity’s Strategy

Nutrition for Longevity built its menus on the lessons of The Longevity Diet, a plan based largely on the Mediterranean way the longest-lived humans eat. Each meal, created by two-star Michelin chef and French Laundry veteran, Luigi Fineo, is made from food grown on small regenerative and aquaponic farms that are minutes from the company’s kitchens. The food is typically sent within 48 hours of the time it was picked, much faster than the produce at most grocers.

The company also encourages eating fresh by limiting orders to three days of meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) at a time. They also encourage people to eat their own cooking two days each week, but you can arrange to receive six meals a week by contacting customer service. They are working on smaller and larger deliveries.

Founder Jennifer Maynard said that Nutrition for Longevity plans to launch Texas and California farms this year to start to reduce the shipping distance to its growing customer base. She described a plan to expand to many regions over the next several years. We’re pleased to see that regenerative farms will be more accessible as a result.

Fine Food

When we tested Nutrition for Longevity, we opted for the pescatarian option, which is curated based on the number of calories selected. The meals are interesting and varied, but most of all delicious. The meals were flavorful, filling, and left us feeling energetic.

Prepared meal from Nutrition for Longevity

The dinner selections included blackened cod and potatoes, Okinawa fried rice, and Sardinian pasta with broccoli raab. Lunches consisted of excellent salads — including shaved Brussels sprout salad and Californian chickpea Caesar salad — and a winter squash and mushroom noodle bowl. The most surprising meal was breakfast, which was always filling, setting a solid foundation for a day’s eating: a blueberry chia pudding and Nicoyan green chili chilaquiles were our favorites.

In addition to Mediterranean cuisine, Nutrition for Longevity draws on Latin American, Californian, and Japanese foods associated with the longest lifespans around the world. The company promotes the idea of “Eating like a centenarian,” which means eating austerely without forgoing flavor. Except for the need for a little pepper and, in one case, a bit of salt, all the meals were seasoned perfectly. Cooked meals required only quick heating in the microwave or on the stove before eating.

Healthy eating isn’t cheap, but compared to picking up a meal at most fast-food choices, Nutrition for Longevity’s $12.00 average meal cost is a reasonable alternative. Several other meal delivery programs are a dollar or two less expensive, but only Green Chef and Veestro also offer organic and regeneratively farmed produce.

Nutrition for Longevity uses no synthetic fertilizers or GMO seeds and sweetens meals using only maple syrup. The meal selections ensure that you get the right balance of fruits, vegetables, and protein each day. In the regions where people live longest, fasting is common and the company suggests mixing in a fasting regime to maximize the health benefits of its foods.

Choosing the Right Meals

The ordering process is straightforward because the whole diet is planned. Nutrition for Longevity offers vegetarian and pescatarian options, and you must choose one of the diets; they cannot be mixed and all three daily meals are included in every order. Each order includes a scannable QR code that opens the menu and dietary information for the meals it contains. And you can see the upcoming week’s menu when you order.

After specifying the number of calories, either 1,600 or 2,000 per day, you can specify the number of days per week you want and enter your payment information. You can get $40 off your first two orders using the code “EARTH40” when you check out.

Free consultations are available for newcomers to Nutrition for Longevity. If you have questions before subscribing, schedule a complimentary consultation with a member of Nutrition for Longevity’s dietician team. They will provide advice about the appropriate calorie count, allergens, and nutritional recommendations based on your health goals.

Nutrition for Longevity also offers organic coffees, olive oil, and dark chocolate as add-ons to the menu. And if you want to cook with fresh produce, you can order produce grown on their regenerative farm.

Packaging Progress, Not Perfection

We are impressed with the values represented by the packaging, but there is room for improvement. Individual meals are packaged in a black PET dish and sealed with plastic film. During a recent podcast interview with Jennifer Maynard, she told us that the company will have eliminated plastic from 95% of its packaging by the end of 2021. The bioplastics the company uses are biodegradable and can be composted commercially.

An insulated box filled with Nutrition for Longevity meals

Keeping food cold in transit is the biggest challenge with meal delivery. Nutrition for Longevity uses an innovative cooling pack, Enviro Ice made by Cryopak, that can be emptied and the contents mixed with water for use as a plant food. It stays frozen longer than water and the bag is made of a bioplastic that purportedly biodegrades in an industrial composting facility, but not a home compost pile.

My Nutrition for Longevity order arrived in a recyclable cardboard box secured with paper tape. The box is lined with Renewliner to keep the food cold. Renewliner is a PET insulation that the maker claims can be placed in curbside recycling bins, but it is not accepted by curbside programs because it cannot be sorted safely. It must be put in your trash. We encourage Nutrition for Longevity to reconsider its use of Renewliner.

Final Thoughts

Meal delivery can be tremendously inefficient and wasteful. Our experience with Nutrition for Longevity was very positive and we feel the trade-off of using a meal delivery service is worthwhile in this case.

The food is great and the company is working to eliminate plastic as fast as new materials allow. The quality of the food and the added value provided by the curation of meals based on the well-regarded Longevity Diet program makes this an attractive way to support the regenerative farming values that are critically important to restoring topsoil across the country. If we can support the expansion of a national regeneratively farmed cuisine, that’s a positive step. As electric vehicles take over and displace internal combustion vehicles, there are more reasons to consider a network of regenerative farms as a viable and sustainable alternative to traditional food distribution.

We rate Nutrition for Longevity a Better choice than buying packaged food at the grocery store.

By Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch is the publisher at Earth911.com and Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Intentional Futures, an insight-to-impact consultancy in Seattle. A veteran tech journalist, Mitch is passionate about helping people understand sustainability and the impact of their decisions on the planet.