24: A Real Food Resource

Thrive Market

The objection I hear most often to a real-food organic diet is that it is cost prohibitive. This is definitely the case at first glance sometimes, since cheaper processed foods are often subsidized and cheaper than organic foods and produce, but on today’s episode, I’m excited to introduce a new real food resource that is helping bridge the gap.

What is Thrive Market?

It is called Thrive Market and it is an online membership site that delivers Whole Foods products at Costco prices with the convenience of Amazon Prime. I talk with Thrive Market’s CEO and co-founder, Gunnar Lovelace, about how this new resource works and how it will benefit you.

Thrive Market is able to offer many natural and real food products at 30-50% off retail due to their membership model. They have a membership fee like Costco (less that $5 a month) and this allows them to offer products at wholesale prices. All orders over $49 qualify for free shipping.

With a Conscience…

One of my favorite things about Thrive is their social mission. For every person who purchases a membership, they give away a free membership to a low income family. They also use recycled and recyclable materials in all of their shipping and take measures (like carbon offsets) to be completely environmentally friendly.

It was so important to me to have a resource available like this for my own family and to share with you, that I actually invested in the company and serve as an advisor to help them choose products that moms and families need and use.

I’ve ordered from Thrive multiple times, especially for things I can’t easily get locally like Coconut Aminos, Mary’s gone crackers, Wild Planet tuna, Real Salt and more. The prices were definitely cheaper than I was able to find on Amazon or locally (if available).

Wholesome Food – Wholesale Prices

What makes Thrive Market unique is the membership model that allows them to keep a wide variety (over 2,500) different real-food products at wholesale prices (25-50% below retail). They stock non-perishable foods, and I’ve turned to them for many of our staple non-perishables while we continue to buy perishable foods like meats and vegetables at our local farmers markets.

The membership pays for itself in just a couple of orders and you get automatic free shipping on all orders over $49!

The team at Thrive is constantly working to expand the number of products they are offering and keep existing products in stock. If a product you want is out of stock, check back in a few days- they are working quickly to re-stock.

Discount for You

I’m not a fan of signing up for a membership for something without getting a chance to try it, so Thrive is offering a free one-month membership, plus an additional discount of 20% on your first order. (The discount is automatically applied, or you can use the code “wellness”)

Visit this page to learn more about Thrive and to qualify for the discount.

Thanks as always for listening to the Wellness Mama Podcast. If you’re enjoying these interviews, please subscribe via iTunes and leave a (5 Star!) rating and review if you haven’t already!

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Reader Comments

  1. Thanks for the info. The mutt butter is definitely cheaper here than where i get them, but i find that most of the products are more out about the same as the places i shop. I was hoping to see meat items. Thank you though.

  2. This is terrific! Thank you so much for sharing! Gunnar is absolutely right, I’m seeking out trusted voices in the quest to “healthify my life”, and yours is a major one. I hope to add his to my list, too. Thanks again for this! Now, I’m off to check it out!

  3. Since you are invested in this company I have a suggestion for you to bring to the board…. I (like you) have a lot of kids. 4 teenage boys at home to be exact. While the prices are good on the packages they have, I would love to see larger packages or bulk of the products. A 4 oz pack of something is pointless in my home. One kiddo would open 2+ in a single sitting. This is where eating healthy becomes cost prohibitive to me and why I am still stuck shopping at Costco for them. I do make snack items, but need the bulk ingredients to do so. A 4-8 oz package of nuts isn’t enough when making my own protein bars etc. This company is definitely a start in the right direction – just thought I would offer this insight into a larger family with teens.

    • I second that. I did not buy some items because the package size was too small for my convenience (and preference to reduce packaging waste).

  4. I am curious what people eating a real food diet spend per month (and their family size) on food. For my husband and I and our 3 young children (1.5, 4, 5) our budget is $300 max. When I searched extensively locally, prices on eggs and meat and milk are too high for our budget, especially once I add in fruits and veggies! We have really cut out most processed foods, but we do the bulk of our shopping at Aldi (I am sure many here are gasping in disgust) I am getting tired of hearing that this can be done on a budget, so I would love feedback, to get an idea of whether it truly can be done. (Also, I shouldn’t have to go into this detail, but I know there are many critical people out there: we live very simply- no cable, majority of clothes at Goodwill, my husband has a smartphone only out of necessity for work, etc. We are by no means poor, at least not by our standards, however we simply cannot put more toward our food budget and that is not because a healthy lifestyle is not important to us!)

    • I’ve probably gotten my monthly groceries budget down to about $200/mo or less in the San Francisco Bay area, which is a relatively expensive area. I buy almost exclusively fresh, unprocessed (or minimally processed), organic produce, which I eat quite a bit of. However, I have also almost entirely cut out eggs, milk, and meat from my diet for environmental concerns. The only regular exception that I have recently made is that I eat wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon maybe twice a week or so. I hardly eat grains (e.g. oats, pasta, rice, quinoa). It’s not because I am against eating grain through; it’s simply because I enjoy the taste of fruits, veggies, and nuts more than I enjoy the relatively bland taste of grains and they do not require as much effort (or any effort in the case of fruits and nuts) to cook. Costco has been critical to my ability to buy organic food at a reasonable price though. If you supplement your diet with grains; add in items like dry bean or sweet potatoes; or swap out the expensive sockeye salmon for cheaper organic roaster chickens (or milk or eggs), you can definitely cut the costs even further than I have.

      • *I only shop for myself, excluding occasional guests or dinner parties.

    • We have 4 adults and one child under our roof. We spend close to 400 a month on food (including fog food) I cook everything from scratch and we might eat meat twice a week. I personally don’t think that’s so bad considering were a family of 5.

    • Hi Helen,

      I shop at Aldi too, and really enjoy getting veggies at good prices. There’s a store close to our home that is convenient for me, and if there’s a problem with my produce for any reason, I’ve never had an issue with returns. I personally love shopping at Aldi, especially when I need something quickly. So, not disgusting at all when I save money and get good products I need! Oh and I love Goodwill too! 🙂

  5. I’ve wanted to try Thrive a few times, but every time I start to make an order, they are out of stock of so many of the items I need. I rarely find this problem with Vitacost and their prices are lower most times than my local grocery/health food stores. You don’t need a membership and shipping is free as well for an order over $49. I even score sometimes on Amazon for some items at a cheaper cost. I get my meat from U.S. Wellness. I used to buy my meat locally, but I’m now in an apartment with no extra freezer space. Yes, it can seem expensive to begin buying REAL food, but once you get going after a few months of buying a few items each month, you don’t use them all up at once and you can begin to ‘fill in’ where you need to. It takes a while to get a ‘system’ of purchasing what you need. I also get organic veggies from local farmers markets, and in the winter, I shop the organics area at my local grocer. If my budget is tight, I buy the “Clean 15” and always buy seasonal, so it doesn’t get so expensive. I have 5 kids, but only 2 at home now, so there is 4 of us. My grocery budget is twice as much as Nicole’s, but my two at home are teenagers, not little ones. I’ve noticed since we have switched to REAL and organic food (about 3 years ago), we don’t spend as much in the long run, because we aren’t always hungry, looking for something to eat all the time, because we are now eating nutrient-dense food, which keeps us satisfied and energetic.

    • I agree the prices at Vitacost are probably similar, they are rarely out of stock; and they don’t require a membership fee. However, they were recently acquired by Kmart, so, if you try to avoid sending your dollars to large conglomerates, you’ll likely want to look for alternative places to shop.

      That being said, I checked out Thrive, and I wonder if it has been overwhelmed by the promotion. Just looking at the bar soap and laundry categories, there are more items out of stock than they are items in stock. This really does render the temporary promotion quite useless, and I wonder if Thrive will allow customers to order out of stock items at the promotional price and just ship orders once they restock.

      • Specifically, 10 out of the 14 bar soaps on Thrive are currently out of stock. 7 out of 13 items in laundry are out of stock. And those are the only two categories that I’ve bothered trying to check so far.

      • Their sales since the promotion have far exceeded their expectations so I think they are extending it until next week…

  6. My ears perked up at this episode! It is so exciting to hear about companies like this creating sustainable business models that support good social and environmental stewardship AS WELL as giving conscientious shoppers another option for wholesome non-perishable purchases. I was even more impressed as Gunnar described the efforts at making Thrive products available to lower income families…its a good start!
    So far it looks like the memberships for lower income families Thrive offers are through various “pilot partners” and limited at this time to the Los Angeles area. Having worked with social services agencies, I would be interested to hear about the specific avenues identified for successful distribution. Lastly, I was disappointed not to hear brought up how many low income families rely at least partially on government funded food assistance programs. So although getting a free or reduced cost membership is great, until Thrive Market can get set up somehow to accept EBT (like many farmer’s markets now do in our area! yay!) families – like mine -unfortunately are mostly still limited to Whole Foods and Safeway, etc.
    Thanks for the podcast Katie!

  7. Thanks for this post, Katie 🙂 We recently moved and I am still trying to find a co-op to order through. I just put in a large order to Thrive. They have many of the things I have ordered through a co-op at very good prices. The shampoo is cheaper here than any other place I have seen. I would love if they started carrying bulk items as well! Thanks again. I love your blog!

  8. I realize you are a new company so it is a trial and error program to find out what people wish to buy. I believe I have placed and received four orders now but my biggest concern, ever since my first order, has been the small package sizes. I purchase almost all my supplies online since I don’t have any stores locally. But to me, purchasing a larger size of my “staple ingredients” is so much more cost effective than all these (what I call) “little single serve sizes”. So, I am hoping, within the near future you are going to realize that a 20lb case of almond flour (or almost any other product) may seem expensive up front but when it is used consistently, broken down by the lb., it is so much cheaper. Then if you can get us an even greater discount, that is a true advantage for any consumer.

  9. Just picked up your podcasts yesterday and am addicted. I already signed up at Thrive and look forward to browsing their products! I wanted to comment on the issue about the water crisis in Toledo, Ohio. My glorious hometown of Sylvania is an immediate suburb of Toledo. =)

    Last summer we did in fact have a water crisis, and while it was scary for those first few hours on Saturday morning, it wasn’t near to the extent mentioned. We couldn’t boil the water because that doesn’t kill the microcystin, it only condenses it. The city panicked for a few hours. All the major grocery stores ran out of water by the time the rest of Ohio woke up. We had bottles shipped in from as many other places as we could.

    It did in a way make me happy to live here, to see how the community rallied around and really made sure those who needed the water got it (the elderly, mother’s with small babies, especially if they were bottle fed babies). Other local suburbs who don’t buy their water from Toledo, or business that have access to point wells like fire stations and my good friend Jason who runs Warzone Paintgames, opened their taps to anyone with a container to come by and fill up. My house is lucky; we have a private point well of our own we use to water our lawn, so we used that for dish washing and boiled a bunch for drinking.

    The microcystin toxin is from the bluegreen algae that blooms in Lake Erie from phosphorus runoffs caused by overuse of pesticides, among other things. By early Saturday afternoon we learned the levels weren’t toxic but they were higher than EPA recommendations of 1 part per billion, and small children & adults with compromised immune systems were cautioned not to drink it. We could shower as early as 2pm Saturday. Their solution was to add chlorine to the water to help kill the microcystin and we were allowed to resume drinking by Monday. For a few days there was a “bleachy” smell in some faucets. Most people now have some kind of filter on their faucets or use a filtering pitcher in their fridge. There are some around here who still only drink bottled water. I hate that idea because of all the bottles used, so I just stick to the filters.

    I don’t mean to downplay the algae blooms. They frighten me. We have a gargantuan source of fresh water literally right next to us and we need to protect it. There have been summers we weren’t allowed to use our beaches because of the algae. We were warned this wasn’t the last time we’ll have an issue. For now I just hope we can find some kind of compromise to protect our lake.

    Thank you for sharing your vast wealth of knowledge with us all. I’m excited to hear more!

  10. Thrive’s “free” jar of coconut oil winds up costing you $60+ for the shipping cost & membership fee. Yes, I can always cancel my membership before the fee kicks in. But that is a lot of time & hassle just for a jar of coconut oil. No thanks.

    • Thrive has a subscription model, which is how they are able to offer lower prices, the same way that Costco, Sam’s Club, and Amazon Prime do…

  11. Hi- I read soy is not good but mary’s gone crackers has soy in. Is the Mary’s crackers ok?

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