Marathos, the online shop­ping ser­vice that helps cut food waste

New site sug­gests healthy recipes and pro­vides pre­cise quan­ti­ties of fresh in­gre­di­ents

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY LINA GIANNAROU

“Oh no! The pears!” I shouted – thank­fully in­side my head rather than out loud be­cause I was at the of­fice – as I sud­denly re­mem­bered the beau­ti­ful pears I had bought two weeks ago when em­bark­ing on a new diet/healthy eat­ing kick of the kind many of us tend to start ev­ery au­tumn. I had great plans for those pears, but, alas, when I opened my fridge a few hours later I saw they were well past any state of ed­i­bil­ity.

Re­al­iz­ing the amount of fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles we throw away be­cause of poor plan­ning is truly dis­heart­en­ing. A Public Is­sue poll car­ried out for WWF Hel­las found re­cently that even in the cri­sis, 37 per­cent of Greeks throw away food at least once or twice a month, and 9 per­cent waste food once or twice a week. The most usual waste is leftover cooked food and, of course, salad greens and fruits.

Such fig­ures were high in Eleni and Ma­toula’s minds when they de­cided to start Marathos (marathos.gr).

“Why should we buy larger quan­ti­ties than we need to make a plate of food?” Ma­toula Ts­es­metzi said when Kathimerini looked her up to find out more about the busi­ness.

What Marathos does is pi­o­neer­ing in Greece: It doesn’t cook, it shops for us. Users of the ser­vice look at the weekly menu posted on the web­site – de­signed by the team’s di­eti­tian and chef – pick the recipes they are in­ter­ested in and the num­ber of por­tions needed, and or­der the in­gre­di­ents to pre­pare them at home.

“We first saw the idea abroad and were in­ter­ested in mak­ing it more ‘Greek,’” ex­plained Ts­es­metzi, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive at a num­ber of prom­i­nent food com­pa­nies. “In most Euro­pean coun­tries, peo­ple or­der large quan­ti­ties of food to cover the meals for an en­tire week, which they have planned in ad­vance. We don’t do that in Greece. Greeks want some­thing more laid-back, some­thing they can or­der now and get as soon as pos­si­ble, that solves an im­me­di­ate prob­lem.”

Prob­lem solv­ing is what Marathos does best. If a recipe calls for onions, they ap­pear, chopped or diced. If it calls for ba­con, that too comes cut as it needs to be. “Ev­ery­thing is in the ex­act quan­ti­ties it needs to be.”

I had a go at the ser­vice. I chose two por­tions of pork scal­lops cooked with sage and pro­sciutto and served with gnoc­chi (putting my diet on hold for a while). I re­ceived a par­cel with the meat cut into por­tions, sage, pro­sciutto, flour (the scal­lops need to be lightly floured), ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil, white wine for the sauce, home­made chicken stock ( made at Marathos), gnoc­chi, but­ter, salt, pep­per, finely chopped pars­ley and even tooth­picks to at­tach the ham to the pork. It was all there – in­clud­ing a printed recipe with step-by-step il­lus­tra­tions – and cook­ing it was a piece of cake. The re­sult was great and mainly be­cause you didn’t get the sense of hav­ing or­dered take­away.

“We of­ten like a recipe but have to buy all sorts of quan­ti­ties we don’t need that end up get­ting thrown away or for­got­ten in the fridge,” said Ts­es­metzi. “Many peo­ple also avoid cook­ing cer­tain things be­cause they know that they’ll have to buy in­gre­di­ents they rarely use, like co­conut milk, for ex­am­ple. Marathos brings them the ex­act quan­tity the will need. This also means you can avoid the su­per­mar­ket, where, as we all know, you tend to end up with a cart full of stuff you hadn’t planned on buy­ing.”

The cost of each in­di­vid­ual or­der comes to 6.50 eu­ros on av­er­age and cus­tomers have to or­der for two por­tions or more.

“All of our in­gre­di­ents are top qual­ity and most of the veg­eta­bles or­ganic. We of­fer ex­actly what we would get for our own homes. At this cost, its is brought to your door and you’ve avoided the has­sle of shop­ping and prepa­ra­tion. You also know ex­actly what you’re eat­ing.”

Cus­tomers look at the weekly menu posted on the web­site (de­signed by Marathos’s di­eti­tian and chef), pick the recipes they are in­ter­ested in and the num­ber of por­tions needed, and or­der the in­gre­di­ents to pre­pare them at home.

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