Too Good to Go?

Too Good to Go screenshots.

While I’ve attempted to curb my internet addiction by removing Instagram from my phone, one app continues its siren call: Too Good to Go.

Launched in 2020 Too Good to Go offers restaurants and grocery stores a way to sell meals and ingredients that have gone unsold or are near their expiration date. The app let’s you specify the distance you’re willing to travel to pick up your food. When you see something appealing you reserve and pre-pay. When you show up at the store you display a code on your phone and they hand you a bag of food. You don’t get to choose, so the bag is a surprise which adds to the addictiveness of this app. In our hipster neighborhood Too Good to Go’s offerings center around cafes, so you mostly get pastries and bread but you can also find vegan groceries and Armenian flat breads.

Until recently, we would eagerly await the daily time (4:20p.m.–haha) that the illustrious bakery Tartine would release their delicious breads and pastries at a steep discount for pickup the next day. Sadly they seem to no longer participate which is probably good thing considering my burgeoning pandemic gut.

Too Good to Go operates in the U.S., Europe and Australia. When we were in London last year I was tempted to use the service but Kelly found the idea of eating food that sat around the Paddington train station all day less than appetizing.

Quality varies depending on the restaurant or grocery store. The food from chain places I’ve found to be stale, pre-packaged and of low quality. But we’ve also had some excellent bagels, breads and pizza from some of the better participating restaurants in our neighborhood at amazingly low prices, generally somewhere between $4 and $6.

I do question if we have another tech company monetizing something that would otherwise have gone to, say, a food bank, a gleaning service like Food Forward or to employees. A worker at one of the bakeries assured me that this food would have ended up in the dumpster so, perhaps, Too Good to Go is at least a neutral service. Salvaging the food waste stream is a neighborhood organizing project waiting to happen that would be nice to take away form the tech people. That said, I don’t see my Too Good to Go addiction ending anytime soon.

If you’ve tried this app leave a comment with where you live and what you’ve found.

Back From Nowhere

To my dear Root Simple friends: I’m back. Our webmaster and book designer Roman Jaster took on the arduous process of switching our hosting service and has restored the ability to subscribe to posts via email. Thank you Roman!

While I recover my muse, have a listen to this excellent summary of William Morris’ life via the Jacobin Podcast. The more I become familiar with Morris’ art and politics the more I think he speaks to our time, of the need to recover an optimism about the future and the right we all have to meaningful work.

I Made a Bee Vacuum

Image: Andrew @ortofarms

The bee swarms of spring makes my inbox overfloweth with requests to remove bees from where they take up residence. Mostly I pass these jobs to a professional, but when a friend or acquaintance calls, and the job does not involve a lot of demolition work or hanging on the end of an extension ladder in a bee suit, I’ll say yes.

The process of removing an established hive involves opening up whatever they are in, cutting out the comb and then scooping up the bees that often will retreat to some out of the way spot. This last part, scooping up the bees, can be time consuming, frustrating and potentially dangerous if the bees are in a cranky mood.

For years I’ve resisted making a bee vacuum with the idea that it’s a crutch, somehow an excuse for bad technique. You can use a smoker to herd bees off the comb and, if you’re careful, once the queen is in the bee box the workers will follow. But if a tool makes things go more smoothly, why not give it a try?

There are a lot of different bee vacs that you can make or buy. I built mine using instructions by P. Michael Henderson. It consists of a box with an inlet for a shop vac and another tube to suck up the bees themselves. It has a removable bottom that you can put on top of another bee box once you’ve finished cutting out the comb and putting it in a box. Then you just remove the false bottom and the bees migrate back to their comb.

This past weekend I, along with my friends Andrew and Stephen, removed some bees from a backyard rotating compost bin (a common place bees like to settle in, by the way). We had to Sawzall the bin apart, unfortunately, and by the time we started removing the comb, most of the bees had settled into a hard to access corner of the bin. With the bee vac, we were able to quickly vacuum up those bees and get them into their new home.

Bee vac on top–box with relocated comb on bottom. Image: Andrew @ortofarms

Then, as usual, with this otherworldly creature, something unexpected happened. A cluster ended up on the pavement of the parking garage at the bottom of the apartment building we were removing them from. Somehow some had gotten smashed on the ground–maybe run over by a car? This attracted other bees. There were a lot of bees in the air too. Thankfully it was a holiday weekend and very few people were home and the bees were not at all aggressive. After pondering what to do in this not great situation, I pulled out the vacuum again and, after a few minutes, we had the rogue clusters vacuumed up and added to the box we wanted them in.

We came back after dark a day later and picked up the box and sent them to Andrew’s farm. I don’t have a lot of hope for this hive as it was very small and not very well established. But for this situation, the bee vac came in handy. Not only were we able to extract the bees from a tight spot but we were able to do so quickly and minimize the chance that they would go after people or pets in a dense urban location.