Raw Delivery: Only in NYC? Think Again.


Lasagna and Garlic Bread (c) Pure Market Express

Yesterday, as I announced the lucky winner of Living Raw Food, I hinted at my upcoming review of a new raw foods delivery service. “A raw delivery service?” one reader commented. “Man. Only in New York.”

Au contraire. You guys will be surprised to hear that raw foods delivery services are cropping up all over the country. They ship intricate, high-quality, organic, and all raw food right to your front door—no matter where you are. Most offer various packages (you sign up for a certain number of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks) or the option of ordering a la carte. And in my experience, most of these companies have been started with love and passion by someone whose life was touched by raw foods.

This is certainly true of Rebecca Irey, the co-founder and executive chef behind Pure Market Express, an incredible raw delivery service based in Minnesota. Rebecca grew up on the Standard American Diet: meat and potatoes, goulash and steak. A few meals at a raw restaurant in Minneapolis, though, were enough to pique her interest in the raw diet. If raw foods were as sumptuous and tasty as the foods she tried there, she figured, eating raw might not be so difficult after all. Rebecca was soon a regular at the restaurant, a raw foods convert, and she became a student of Alissa Cohen’s.

Thousands of recipes and a fully raw pregnancy later (Rebecca and her husband and co-founder, Quentin, have six children), Rebecca is committed to making the raw lifestyle accessible and delicious for those who may not have the time or motivation to embark on a culinary journey at home. And she’s particularly interested in re-creating the tastes and textures of familiar and beloved dishes, from tostadas to pizza to lasagna. The dishes are prepared with love and passion, packaged fresh, and shipped frozen so that clients can enjoy enzyme rich, ready made meals in an instant.

When the Iveys got in touch with me about the chance to sample their cuisine, I was delighted. I’ve never tried a raw delivery service before, but I’ve always been curious (if only to see how much dry ice goes into shipping!). I had the chance to make a few menu selections (I went with lasagna and garlic bread, pineapple slaw, chocolate cheesecake, chili lime crackers, and I got a bonus of banana cream pie), and within days the food arrived neatly packaged to my office. It was light to transport home, and when I opened it, I was delighted to find fresh, carefully bundled meals:



Knowing I’d only be able to sample a few of them this week (it’s another busy one, with some meals out, so I didn’t want anything to go to waste) I refrigerated half and froze the other half. And I can’t wait to sample the goods!

Now, I’ll admit that my feelings about raw delivery services are slightly mixed. All of these services purport to  encourage raw lifestyles by giving clients meals that they wouldn’t necessarily be motivated or able to make at home. This is certainly admirable: if home delivery is going to help a busy new working mom to sustain her raw lifestyle as she attempts to juggle mothering and her job, or to motivate a businessperson who has virtually no free time to cook between travel and work, that’s great. If it’s going to motivate a newcomer to eat raw consistently by impressing his or her tastebuds, that’s great, too.

But many of us aren’t quite as strapped as new working moms or CEOs, and some of us aren’t quite newcomers to healthy eating. Most of us reside in a slightly in between place: we have a slice of time in which we know we can take healthy steps, but we’re not quite sure how to begin; or, we’re in the habit of establishing healthy cooking habits once in a while, but ultimately we get lazy and fall back on packaged foods.

In my mind, it’s important for this group—those of us who are busy, but have some time in which to prepare food—to understand that eating raw needn’t mean sumptuous recipes and hours in the kitchen; it can be as quick and easy as any kind of routine food preparation. And I’m not entirely confident that food delivery (or dining at a raw restaurant) encourages this awareness; if anything, it may compound a fear of taking ownership of one’s raw lifestyle and applying it on a consistent, day to day basis.

As a counselor, I see it as one of my main tasks to give my clients the life skills they need to sustain healthy habits. I know that, long after a client and I are no longer working together, he or she will have the greatest chance of success if I’ve been able to pass along a set of simple, practical, and easily implemented skills: how to throw together a raw dinner quickly; how to pack healthy, yet filling lunches, how to order in a restaurant. Do I love it when clients become inspired to reach new levels of culinary artistry? Yes! But I would rather see a client emerge from our time together with a set of skills that, if not all raw and vegan, is practical and lasting. In fact, I’d rather know that a client has taken on a few major habits permanently (for instance, eating mostly plant-based till dinner; mastering certain basic healthy dishes for weeknight suppers) than worry that a client who seems to have made a sudden lifestyle transformation is going to burn out when the novelty wears off.

Raw delivery services (and even juicing services, like the Blueprint cleanse), serve an important and valuable function. They show newcomers—including some who would never think to juice or eat raw—how absolutely delicious uncooked and plant based foods are. They allow those who have the means to indulge in healthy, delicious raw cuisine on a day to day basis, so that the lifestyle becomes habitual. And they give those who are interested in raw foods, but live far away from raw restaurants or even decent health food stores, a chance to experience raw dining at its very best. It may be my hope that all of my readers become proficient raw chefs, but that is no reason why they shouldn’t also have the option of having tasty, nourishing raw food delivered to them when they feel like it.

We’re not all born kitchen lovers, after all; even when it comes to regular cooking, there are those who like it, and those who don’t; those who eat in and those who eat out or get takeout. Raw delivery gives those in the latter category a huge and delicious array of options.

And even for those of us like me—guys and gals who love to be in the kitchen—there is always a night (or a week, or a month!) when the thought of preparing something—anything—is overwhelming. I know for a fact that this will be such a night for me. I’ll be leaving work, doing an interview for the blog, running home to change, and meeting a friend, and dinner will have to happen in the thirty minutes I’m home. Could I throw together a soup and salad? Sure. Am I really, really excited that I have an amazing lasagna to sample? Hell yes. What would otherwise be a rushed dinner is, thanks to Pure Market Express, going to be a special one.

And as you all know, I’m a slacker on raw desserts. I rarely find time to make them. But this doesn’t mean I don’t love it when other people make them for me! Naturally, the first dish from Pure Market that I sampled was the chocolate cheesecake. And I can say honestly that it was one of the best raw desserts I’ve ever eaten (it’s long gone now, but here’s a shot of the goods after my first bite).


If all of the food continues at this level of excellence, I’m in for a delectable week.

Expect more reviews of my meals as the week goes on. And don’t take my word for it—check out the service for yourself! You can learn more about the food options, pricing, philosophy, and story of Pure Market Express by checking out their website. Note the exceptionally reasonable prices and the warm, welcoming spirit behind the company. If you’re looking to get a break from food prep—especially as August assaults us with a little heat wave—I recommend Rebecca and Quentin’s work.

Just remember to get the chocolate cheesecake.


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  6. Pure Raw Cafe uses nuts that are not really raw. They may be preparing the food without cooking it, but some of the ingredients that they start out with have been heated before food prep even begins. When I wrote to Rebecca asking her about nuts, she assured me that they were careful to use raw nuts, and in the next sentence told me that the almonds are heated to 145 degrees. And I got the sense that she doesn’t even realize that cashews are almost always cooked, because that’s how they remove them from the shell, even if they are labelled as raw.

    It’s still much healthier than many other alternatives, but for people who are aiming for 100% raw it is not optimal. Unfortunately Pure Raw Cafe is not entirely upfront about their ingredients on the webiste. This is important so that people can make an informed choice. If this is important to you you can drop them a line about it, and hopefully they will begin to take it seriously.

    • Thanks for this comment, Becky. But since the 100% raw ethos means absolutely nothing to me, I’m afraid it’s a bit hard for me to relate to the sentiment…

      • I understand that not everyone is concerned with 100% raw, which is why I said that the information should be clear so that “people can make an informed choice,” no matter what that choice is. It’s more about truth in advertising than personal dietary choice.

        Many people like myself are on a 100% raw diet to try to cure or manage a serious or chronic illness, so for us this transparency is very important. It makes my life that much harder when I cannot believe claims and have to do some investigating before I can feel confident that I’m getting what they are telling me I’m getting.

  7. Please let me know if any delivery service would send to Bermuda. Thank you, Helene
    PS are you able to email a response. I’m not sure I’ll find this otherwise.

  8. OMG, hilarious. I somehow missed this post of yours, and just ate here last night! I was all excited to tell you about it, but it appears that you’ve beaten me to the discovery… 🙂

    Pure Market Express is practically in my parents’ backyard. Lucky me!

  9. Hi Gena,
    Know any good raw, or mostly raw/vegan places that do parpared food delivery in NYC? I know about Organic Ave., but don’t like their menu.
    Thanks for any help.
    Joe Serpico

  10. I have tried raw delivery services but as mentioned previously my biggest problem was the waste that come along with the meals. I was so upset by it, I’m not sure what i was expecting, but I was very upset by it. So I decided to use it as a learning experience and a introduction to new raw foods that i had not previously had, or cannot make due to not having a dehydrator, for example.

  11. I agree with the footprint comment- this was my first thought when I opened the package from Pure Market Express this week. The food was awesome, and if it wasn’t for my frequent traveling where there is no kitchen, I wouldn’t even consider it. I already drag a blender around and make my own morning green smoothies and afternoon veggie juice, so I don’t feel but so dependent on prepared raw food- but it sure is a lifesaver on the road for packing my lunches.

  12. I’m with those worried about the carbon footprint. The health of our bodies is important but can’t be separated from the health of the planet. Did you know that Natalia just launched Detox Delivers? That was my first reaction to her service as well. I don’t want to order from across the country when with the budget and desire I could eat in a raw food restaurant closer to home. I would be more of a fan of local services… especially if companies like this could stock their meals in local health stores, Whole Foods, etc. I sometimes buy raw wraps or treats from local companies that are sold at my local coop.
    On a side note, I am in LA about twice a month now and yesterday my partner and I tried out Erewhon, a natural food store (talk about ford porn)… pricey, but wow- it is amazing to have a store that reflects my values and tastes. Huge juice bar, produce, raw meals and snacks, and all the staples. What a transition from the toxic, crowded walmart we had just visited… but I wish we could have an Erewhon on a walmart budget. This lifestyle shouldn’t discriminate, and I love that you show how to do it with simple ingredients most people can buy.

  13. I loved Rose-Anne’s summary of your philosophy.

    Merits of the service aside, I think it says a lot about you as a person and counselor that you would rather people make lasting, authentic changes than become raw. I like that. I know you would love everyone to be a raw vegan, but the fact that you accept small steps toward health is really great.

  14. Pure Market Express certainly does look heavenly and a great option for those who want a night off and can afford to have a meal delivered. I’d love to use the service, but it’s a bit too expensive for me. For now, I’ll just stick to preparing the great recipes you feature on your site. My new favorite raw food? Zucchini!

  15. This looks incredible, and very luxurious! It is exciting that more options are becoming available to those who want them.

    Of course, I share some of the other readers’ concerns about the transformation of what can be a very locally sourced, close to the earth, un-packaged, un-labeled way of living into not only a product, but a high-footprint product and low-efficiency service. Like Willie I’m torn between wanting minimally processed lifestyles to enter the public life, wanting ideas like raw, organic, vegan, and local to start to be comfortable terms in main-stream American life (objective that are arguably served, at least in the short term, by the increased marketing of boutique and pre-a-porter levels of these products), and wanting a more fundamental change in attitude, an increased awareness not only about the ‘health benefits’ of a given super-food or super-diet on our individual bodies but about the way any food product (and our bodies that consume them) fits into larger economic and ecological systems — systems that are more far reaching temporally and spatially than the individual.

    One of the things I’ve always cherished about this particular blog is that the approach tends to lean, particularly in its original mission statement, toward the simple — recipes, daily practices and un-cooking strategies that can help all of us (wherever we fall on the raw or vegan spectrum) to use what we have, draw from the ingredients and devices already on hand, and support the crops growing nearby without relying too heavily on rainforest-gathered ‘super-products.’ That’s one of the strongest messages I’ve read throughout Gena’s posts — that eating raw doesn’t have to mean turning to boutique ingredients or expensive equipment, nor does it mean giving all of one’s time to personal food preparation. I continue to love that the focus is on real life, real constraints, and simple components, even as she recognizes the spreading availability of exciting resources, dining locations, and foods.

    To me, the important thing, at this point, is that bloggers like Gena (and many of the commenters here) are getting these issue talked about, turning them over, contributing actively to the discussion, sparking more debate and closer thinking, deeper lines of questioning. Thank you so much, to all of you, for that. I truly look forward to seeing what happens as we dig deeper into the personal and global implications of daily choices.

    Thanks for the wonderful story and in-depth post Gena, and be well –


  16. Hey,
    Thanks so much for the kind comments!!:):)

  17. That cheesecake looks irresistible! I’d love to give the service a try one of these days; as much as I love creating my own raw dishes in the kitchen, it’s always nice to be pampered every now and then. 😉

  18. I never realized this was even here (I live in Minneapolis)!! I thought that we only had one raw restaurant but am so excited! I think I’m going to try a few of these….they look amazing!

  19. I am going to try raw lasagna someday!! There are raw restaurants in my city…I’ve just been too poor to go!!

    Those meals sound fab.!

  20. I agree that it would be a great supplement to someone already educated in the raw food revolution, but honestly, 99% of people probably couldn’t afford it.

    That’s not saying it’s not a valuable service, as I would SOOO take advantage of it if I could (in a heartbeat), but I also think the fact that I have to find new ways to prepare the same type of stuff brings a valuable understanding to the food consumed.

    It seems like it would be an easy way for some that could afford it to “be raw,” without really knowing what that is. However, better they order this than pizza! I wish I could afford it!

  21. First things first: The chocolate cheesecake looks amazing.

    Second, I agree with your assessment of raw delivery services. They can make raw foods easier and more accessible, but I’m of the mindset that no matter what sort of food a person decides to eat, they should learn to prepare it themselves for the most part.

  22. You’re such an awesome coach.

    I’m looking forward to trying their goodies, too. 🙂

    Cheers XOXO,

  23. Between this post and VeggieGirl’s post about Pure Raw Cafe, I am so intrigued by the concept of raw meal delivery services. I’d love to try it out…would it be weird to put it on my Christmas list?

  24. Wow! I would love to have food delivered to my door that I did NOT have to fix myself!! That cheesecake looks really yummy:) Hope you enjoy all the taste testing!

  25. Such a dilemma…people who can afford these types of services (if they rely too heavily on them) will never learn to cook and develop a lasting skillset that would then free them from needing the service.

    A break in the kitchen is wonderful but as you so eloquently pointed out, sometimes eating in a raw restaurant or a great delivery service is more than one bargained for with the “break” from the kitchen…i.e., the food is so perfect and beautiful that you think how could I ever make this at home? So, you don’t even try. Unless of course you’re living on a budget and necessity is the mother of invention and if you wanna eat raw, you had darned well better learn to make it yourself. I fall into the later camp 🙂

    Great information, great review, and if I could, I would totally rock this service out…but since I can’t, I just do it myself. But please enjoy that cheesecake for me, k? 🙂

  26. “A summary of your philosophy might be this:

    Give me an avocado, and I’ll eat for a day. Show me how to select an avocado and make it into guacamole, a raw soup, and a raw dessert and I’ll eat for a lifetime.”


  27. This sounds RAWsome, Gena! I tweeted about this post so others can enjoy your review and information as well. I’m off to absorb their website!


  28. I could never afford the home delivery meals, but I can appreciate that they are great for some. I also think part of the “therapy” of raw foods for me is preparing my own meals. But I also wouldn’t turn down a delivered slice of chocolate “cheese”cake.

  29. How luxurious! If only… [sigh]. BUT, as you point out, by not using such conveniences as raw delivery, I’ve been gaining invaluable skills in the kitchen (not to mention appliances) and now have an arsenal of raw recipes and techniques such that it’s a little and easier every time I go to make a raw meal. Your sweet pepper marinara, for example, is a staple for me (so long as I can keep it in the house, haha), and just now, on a Friday night, when most people are LEAST likely to put together a homemade meal, I threw together zucchini marinara along with some eggplant baking in the oven. No sweat!

    I was actually just thinking to myself about the possibility of making larger quantities of raw meals and freezing them–whether or not the food would hold up, so I’ll be interested to hear sometime how the delivery food was, once defrosted.


  30. That chocolate cheesecake looks FABULOUS!! I think I could be a raw food convert just for that :O)

  31. A summary of your philosophy might be this:

    Give me an avocado, and I’ll eat for a day. Show me how to select an avocado and make it into guacamole, a raw soup, and a raw dessert and I’ll eat for a lifetime.

    I’ve been missing your blog, but I wanted to stop by and say hello. I’m having salad for dinner tonight! After the onslaught of desserts and activities this week, I’m so excited about a quiet night at home with my salad and some peace of mind.

    And peace to you, my dear! xo

  32. Not a big of fan of dairy OR non-dairy cheesecakes, but that Chocolate Cheesecake…. looks better than anything. Ever.

  33. Dear Gena,

    I really appreciated reading your polite criticism of raw delivery services. Don’t get me wrong, you did a great job of detailing all the great things about Pure Market Express, too! Yet it was your awareness and honesty about the possible downsides of such a service that I found really insightful.

    For me, one of the things I like most about the raw food lifestyle is that it, by its very nature, gets one’s diet away from processed foods and towards whole foods. And as you point out, this change does not necessarily mean a commitment of several extra hours in the kitchen every day; it can be accomplished simply by making more conscious food choices and planning. But as I see more and more raw snacks and bars filling store aisles, and now raw food delivery services popping up, I am worried that the raw food lifestyle is, like so many other things, being co-opted by the food industry, for its own ends.

    Now I think you’re right to point out that such raw delivery services provide good “gateway” raw meals for newcomers, as well as good last minute meals for raw foodists who suddenly find themselves without much time. And I think you’re right that the founders of Pure Market Express started their company with only the best and raw-positive intentions. And it’s true that delivery service raw food is much better than ordering pizza or going out to Applebee’s, in the same way that buying organic cereal is better than buying conventional, sugary cereals. But at the same time, I like to believe that both the organic and the raw food lifestyle are about more than just changing the direction of our consumerism; they are, rather, about making profound changes in the ways in which we consume.

    I guess I’m writing just to hear your opinions on these issues. I know raw food means a lot of different things to different people, but what do you see as the core principles of the raw food lifestyle, and do you think they are compatible with the traditional workings of the food industry?

    Thanks so much,


    • I’m absolutely in love with this comment, Willie. Thank you! I’m going to respond in a post soon.

  34. That’s close to me! I’m totally checking out the website. While I love making my own meals at home…sometimes I get so busy with school that I’m not going to have time. This would be such an easy way to get my nutrients in, which I’ll admit, I haven’t been doing a very good job of.

  35. very interesting…. i am surprised that these delivery services are successful because i always assumed that raw food eaters are very conscious of their world around them and therefore probably wouldn’t want such a footprint associated with their meals. now i realize that that may not be the case, just like all raw food eaters are not vegans etc. I hope you enjoy the meals this week and look forward to hearing how they are!

    • I hadn’t even thought of the carbon footprint, Sabrina! thanks for pointing it out.

  36. I would never have known a raw food service like this existed in Minneapolis – my hometown! Thanks for sharing, and I will definitely have to check into that!

    Happy weekend!

  37. OMGoodness, you are a lucky thing. You are going to have a delicious week. Enjoy it all (and isn’t it great that it is ALL guilt free too…just another reason this lifestyle is such a wonderful thing)

    Eat up 😀

  38. I know what you’re saying about using something like a delivery service. It gives us an excuse not to learn how to do it ourselves.

    I would prefer to prepare the meals and juice myself, but I will admit, that every so often, it would be great to have someone prepare a HEALTHY raw meal and deliver it to my door. Great for those busy days, when making supper seems like a little too much.

  39. I completely agree about these services being good as an introduction to raw and healthy food for those who don’t know about it. It DOES prove that these foods are delicious. As for me… I’d rather make my own 🙂 I’m a slacker on desserts too though, and that looks fabulous.

  40. I see where you’re coming from and I basically agree with you (it’s way to easy to become dependable on these types of lifestyles and not explore it on your own) but oh does that sound wonderful. Since I won’t have a kitchen this year these options are looking more appealing by the minute 🙂 but that cheesecake, oh my, I’d take a big spoonful of that any day. You’re such a lucky duck that you got to try it!

  41. how cool! I’m really tempted to try it as it “see, raw can be delicious!” kick in the head to the husband 😉 but the shipping costs are a little much…

  42. Wow, I didn’t know there was a raw delivery service here in MN! Not sure I’d ever really use it with a raw restaurant down the street, but thanks so much for the info!

  43. I’ve had a poor experience with RAWvolution and a good experience with Pure Raw Café… so I bet I’d have ANOTHER good experience with Pure Market Express!! I am about to check out the website now 🙂

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