Tuesday, October 09, 2007

'Rotten' Direct

In recent years New York residents have become accustomed to seeing Fresh Direct trucks delivering groceries direct to their door. The idea seems to make sense: order a variety of groceries online and receive delivery within a day or two. No more driving to the grocery store means less fuel consumption, cleaner air, etc.

However, Fresh Direct came under fire almost from the start for what seemed to be a form of racial and economic 'red-lining'. They only offered delivery in more prosperous neighborhoods, even refusing to deliver to some neighborhoods right next to their distribution centers.

Next, some environmental advocates began to question the benefits of the delivery service. The trucks bring more traffic congestion and thereby air and noise pollution to residential neighborhoods and the deliveries use a significantly increased amount of packaging; much of it un-recyclable. I once witnessed a Fresh Direct truck on Union St. in Park Slope pull over recklessly and shear off the rear view mirror of a parked car and scrape its fender. This was after almost running me over on my bicycle. I don't know if they left a note on the damaged car.

Now, Fresh Direct employees are starting to complain about their working conditions and pay levels that are 40% lower than other supermarket and food warehouse workers make in New York. According to the local Teamster Union spokesperson, Fresh Direct has retained the services of a law firm that specializes in anti-union efforts.

I don't have a car so I either walk or ride my bicycle to either my local Met Food or to the Fairway store in Red Hook and avoid using plastic shopping bags.

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