Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

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viking87
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Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by viking87 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:40 pm

Hey gang, my first burn this past summer (and experiencing the convince of a pre-fab hexayurt to grab on the last leg of the trip) got me thinking about what other elements of the journey can be serviced for pickup in Reno, particularly for those who fly in or have the disposal income to automate that part of trip preparation. There appear to be plenty of water vendors in Reno as well, yet none of our fellow veterans had any NV-based food bundling resources in mind. Eating options on the playa are limited, but for chefs and longtime wilderness campers there could be much more of a selection than initially imagined.

Major questions being: How much money do you allocate for your week(s) meals and is that something you would trust to an established online service? To essentially select your plan and meals for the week, however varied you'd like, then pick up an X-sized cooler (meal plan / count dependent) on your way through Reno. Or does anyone know if this service exists already and we just missed it?

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Popeye » Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:24 pm

It's been tried and it doesn't work for several reasons:
No one wants another plug n play camp.
You have to charge much more than a Burner can pay to bring their own meals. Are we supposed to throw away a cooler every year?
Half (or more) of the fun in the Burn is preperation. You are offering an unneeded service.
When you are on playa your appetite changes, food that tastes great at home will make you gag. Food that you do not want to eat at home tastes wonderful.
Sounds like an adventure in mooping.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:34 am

I have to agree with Popeye. Burners are notoriously fickle, especially virgins. You could end up with a lot of food that is not picked up. Today everyone is a picky eater AKA has dietary restrictions, so menu planning is a nightmare. Finally, the whole thing is a liability clusterf*k.

The easier get rich quick scheme is to start a camp with your friends and charge them money. Then you can expand to cover every festival on the West Coast. Of course you could lose your mind doing that...

Our many Reno, SF, Vegas, Salt Lake/Winnemucca/Cedarville & Gerlach etc. ePlayans can provide real data, but outbound trash disposal, recycling & reuse probably needs .a lot of work, it is probably more a charity gig. A fund to pay Resto would be nice too. Generally non-profits take 10% of the fees and 100% of the criminal risk to be the fiscal agent.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by viking87 » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:35 pm

Liability wasn't something I'd much considered. My buddies running the SoCal meal prep service hadn't mentioned that in their own day to day ops, but I don't work with them directly any more so it hasn't been topical. I'm not exactly suggesting salmon and pheasant is on the menu, nor had I considered the finicky issues of allergies, I was just here gauging the early response from those who go. In my first time out this summer, about half the chow packed was dehydrated camping packages and the other half was leftover chicken, pork & quinoa prepped from days prior and still in the fridge at home (which held up surprisingly well off the stovetop grill with a bit of powdered cheese topping it off). I suppose the more you go, the more of these meals you figure out and the less you'd need to rely on a service like this.

The potential of ad-targeting on social media for anyone who "qualifies" (Likes specific pages) really drove the idea, essentially being able to hit anyone in SF, LA, SLO, Portland and Seattle... the true "service" aspect would be for those flying in relatively last minute (virgins or otherwise) who can't throw a massive cooler on the plane. Our cherry-picking, get rich quick demo were the 6-to-8 figure folks who've been too busy to prep, or ravers who just show up for the last few days.

I'm not a huge festival goer besides BM, but I see your point in expanding. Really jut trying to offset expenses for this year's trip! Would also like to become more involved long-term in the culture as it keeps growing. The hexayurt companies are busting ass for a month or two but definitely making a boatload... yurt, small AC and genny for $1,300.

Starting a camp is interesting, as I'm the first one in any of my circles to have gone (was invited by the g/f and her camp) to the event, but a lot have inquired since then. Do either of you have any experience in camp mgmt or logistics?

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Ratty » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:15 pm

When you start talking about doing stuff like this I wish we were face to face. Do you really need to make money off of this event. You say,
Really jut trying to offset expenses for this year's trip! Would also like to become more involved long-term in the culture as it keeps growing.
Take a second job to off set your expenses. You would be diluting the culture with another Plug&Play scheme. 3 days into the week and everyone has excess food. You can't shop for strangers.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would like PBR and fried spam I would of laughed at you.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by maladroit » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:20 pm

I could afford a meal prep service and have excellent experience-based feedback on what foods taste great out there, are easy to heat up, and handle well in a cooler.

But fuck your burn, I'm not telling you and out of spite I'm just going to eat pickles, cheese balls, and canned chili this year.

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:19 am

Viking87 you totally don’t get this whole thing.

The reason I say that is because you’re just trying to commercialize it, and the absence of that was the whole fucking point. How did you miss that?
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by AntiM » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:55 am

You're not supposed to make money off the burn. Period. Some people do, but they suck. Do some people offer this service? Probably, and I think they are misguided.

No. I do not care if this makes attending easier for some burners, IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY. They can fly in and go shopping, it is not that fucking hard. Special diet? Don't like camping food? FUCKING FIGURE IT OUT. Join a camp with a meal plan. Join a camp with friends who can go shopping and haul your food. But a subscription service is over the line.

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Jackass » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:21 pm

A first year burner all ready trying to figure out how to already grab his piece of the pie??

What the hell are they teaching these guys in newbie burner school that makes people think this shit is ok?

PnP culture and Outside Services permeate burning man and social media.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by BBadger » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:50 pm

I'd love it if such services were investigated in secret and the "participants" in such schemes were identified, not just the people running them. Then those people would have their tickets voided, or even better, get evicted from the event. Yes, I want burns ruined. I want to see lots of social media posts showing crying, not-quite-burners in costume-store steampunk attire on their way back to Reno after finding out that they had violated sanctions. Get the word out that the participants in such schemes -- not just the service providers -- also get punished for being complicit. Radically disinvited. Do not pass go, do not spend $200, and maybe you can return some day once you're playing by the rules.

Because really the problem is this impression that people can utilize such services, and that it's easy to obtain, not that such services exist in the dark underworld of the event. We all know that if you have enough money you can get your own servicers to attend to your camp. We all know that meal plans and camp dues services blur the lines of PnP camping. However, such arrangements need to be at the scale where you only get to participate if you're already in bed with a camp (and not just a commercial camp), or are doing all these arrangements privately.

It should not be where any of these services become an easy thing to obtain, or that it can accommodate "common" people at a cut-rate price. For it's when these problems become commodified, rather than the realm of secrecy and exclusivity, that the nature of event truly changes and the floodgates open, letting in all kinds of uninvested people into the event.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Ano » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:33 pm

BBadger wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:50 pm
I'd love it if such services were investigated in secret and the "participants" in such schemes were identified, not just the people running them. Then those people would have their tickets voided, or even better, get evicted from the event. Yes, I want burns ruined. I want to see lots of social media posts showing crying, not-quite-burners in costume-store steampunk attire on their way back to Reno after finding out that they had violated sanctions.
Truth be told, I don't think there's a realistic way to do this, but I also feel like this should be a thing that happens.

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by TT120 » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:04 pm

C'mon guys, lighten up a bit. You can't really blame him for trying to make some money off this event. Lots of people/entities make money from it. The government does it, the cops do it, lots of camps do it. There are bike rental people that do it, trash services, portapotty services, BMORG, you get the idea...... We have arbitrarily drawn a very gray line as to whats acceptable or not. It's strange human behavior and hard to understand.

The whole world revolves around money and we are taught to chase it all our lives. WE are the weird ones that don't seem to comprehend how the rest of the world works. Cut him some slack, he'll learn just like we all did. Or he wont.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:15 pm

Sure, let’s just keep commercializing it more. Make it easier and easier.

Let’s encourage the guy who mostly sees this as a business opportunity.

You should prepare for burning man as if no one else was gonna show up. If you can’t do that, it’s too hard for you.

Little about burning man pisses me off more than Europeans or anyone who lives too far away saying “but I can’t go if there aren’t services provided”. Well, yeah. Then it’s too hard and you can’t do it! I can’t go to your fucking events in New Zealand or Amsterdam or wherever-the-fuck, it’s too far and it’s too expensive to pull it off.
Waah.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by some seeing eye » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:33 pm

Adding to the Captain's concerns - if you are flying to Reno, SF, LV, SLC to get to Burning Man you are wealthy. You have10 days - 2 weeks or more off work, air fare, BxB/BxA, car rental, camping supplies which some people just use once.

I have plenty of poor friends who have itinerant jobs, their own camping equipment or borrowed, and carpool to the event in exchange for gas, Some volunteer for DPW. Some are even gifted tickets from the community.

So a business to make it easier for wealthy individuals to attend, especially virgins who may only go for one year, don't contribute to the culture, and don't use the experience to change the world, is distasteful.

Many of us are not supportive of the BORG expansion overseas with art grants, low income tickets, and endless marketing. I fully understand the NZ and OZ gap walkabout. But if you are in that, there are many of your peers who are veteran burners which can help you for free.

Some of us radicals believe that all camps that have dues should have open books, and that the detailed records of Outside Services vendors be publicized. Some of you may have seen the 2018 gigapan image. Look closely, there is a row of 6? 53' refer trailers for fresh food lined up around K.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Ratty » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:10 pm

Speaking of Outside services...This just arrived a couple of days ago. It's in the Placement Newsletter #2.

OSS Changes Coming Soon

If you are a camp leader, mutant vehicle owner/operator, artist, or anyone who uses the Outside Services at Burning Man, we want to give you a quick update on the OSS Program.

Burning Man is working on changes for the 2019 Outside Services Program. We do not yet have the details to share, but we wanted to give you a heads up about upcoming changes. We will let everyone know the full information as soon as possible. If you contact us asking for more information, we don’t have anything more to share at this time.

In the meantime we recommend that you delay booking any services with past Outside Services vendors for 2019 until the program changes are announced. We are also asking 2018 OSS vendors to delay contracting with anyone.

We are working as quickly as we can to confirm these changes and will announce them very soon. We wanted to give you this notice before most camps start ramping up for 2019, which typically happens once DGS is announced.

Thank you for your patience and look forward to an announcement coming soon!

- Outside Services and the Burning Man Event Operations Team
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by BBadger » Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:02 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:15 pm
Little about burning man pisses me off more than Europeans or anyone who lives too far away saying “but I can’t go if there aren’t services provided”. Well, yeah. Then it’s too hard and you can’t do it! I can’t go to your fucking events in New Zealand or Amsterdam or wherever-the-fuck, it’s too far and it’s too expensive to pull it off.
And some people do pull it off, but if you're not going to go through that level of effort, well that's just too bad. Can't just "drop in." You've gotta make connections with people or find your own way in with your gear.

We had some folks from Austria, including their 80+-year-old father, make it without having to be specially accommodated except for bikes. They just slept in a rented car that they foiled up to keep out the heat.

Also met a kid from Australia who drove in on a motorcycle, but had enough supplies to survive the week without really knowing anyone.

People do it. If it's too much, go to Las Vegas and have a great time there. It'll probably be cheaper too, with better food than whatever shit PnP camp caterers pack in.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Toe » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:37 pm

Heh heh heh...

It takes like what, an hour to zip around with a schlopping cart at TJ's or wherever to get two weeks of groceries. You may have a hard time getting clientele who don't know how to buy groceries, maybe.

Anyway, the real trick is to understand the meaning of decommodification and radical self-reliance. It might take you a while to see it, but there's a difference between pooling resources among your group and selling services. Think potluck dinner vs. restaurant.

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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by Savannah » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:55 pm

maladroit wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:20 pm
I could afford a meal prep service and have excellent experience-based feedback on what foods taste great out there, are easy to heat up, and handle well in a cooler.

But fuck your burn, I'm not telling you and out of spite I'm just going to eat pickles, cheese balls, and canned chili this year.
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Re: Ideating a meal prep service for BM 2019

Post by trilobyte » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:16 am

I'm moving this over to the Recommendations board, since that's a better fit for 'what do I buy' threads.

Buying meals from others tends to be awkward at best for all the reason mentioned above. There are other considerations.

There are plenty of operators out there looking to prey on the lazy people who just want to throw money at their problems and out-source their Burning Man experience. The best way to avoid getting taken for a ride... is not to ride that ride. You're an adult human, you can probably figure out how to feed yourself, and like thousands of other burners you might even be great at it. You'll surprise yourself with what you're capable of (everyone can be radically self reliant).

Most of that cottage industry of nebulous in-advance meal providers (the ones where you get your food before you go to Burning Man)... is shady, at best. Many will boast about ingredients, or adhering to particular diets, or having an experienced chef... but there's little in the way of credibility. Most of those people aren't an actual business with a licensed (and inspected by the health dept) kitchen. It could be anyone from a restaurant worker to anyone with a stove at home looking to cash in on pre-cooked meals. Even if things are handled safely during prep and cooking, there's no telling where or how it's stored after it's prepared (or for how long between when it's cooked and when you get it). If the person's making at home and selling to multiple people, odds are their home fridge and freezer gets filled to capacity in no time, then who knows where and how it gets stored. If you do consider buying pre-cooked meals, I would insist on getting details of the operation. Some kind of business name and proof that their kitchen is being inspected by somebody.

The cottage industry of people who provide meals on the playa is also sketchy, but I think has been less of an issue in recent years, thanks to the NV health department and BLM. Anybody providing food for the public or whose kitchen makes food for people outside their camp is required to have a health department permit (as do camps whose kitchens make food for 125+ people), and the kitchen is inspected on-playa. Further, anyone whose business operations take place at the event (on federal land) in any way, whether it's cooking or simply on-playa deliveries, is required to have a special recreation permit (or SRP) and pay a percentage of their revenues to the BLM. Since the BLM has started actively enforcing those rules (fines for violating that can be steep), a lot of those operators have just stopped offering the service (they've shifted to the above group of in-advance meal providers). In a nutshell, if they're taking shortcuts and not doing it right, they want to avoid either scrutiny or the risk of getting busted. If you are considering signing up for some kind of on-playa meal delivery/pickup service, I would insist on seeing a copy of health permits and SRP paperwork, you can probably verify that with the NV health department or BLM.

I get the appeal of a meal plan service, especially for people who are flying in. We all need to eat, and if possible who wouldn't want to eat well? In all my years of participating in the event, I've seen a lot of meal plan offers. I've seen and heard enough horror stories (people getting sick, or just not getting anything like what was promised) that as a consumer I would be extremely cautious and skeptical of promises. And in 15 years I have not yet seen one that I would recommend. Your mileage may vary.

There are other options, even for those flying in. Often times, for less money than a pricey meal plan it's easier to just come into Reno a day or two earlier. You can probably find rooms with a kitchen or kitchenette, or better still if you've got a Reno-area friend or campmate who might let you spend some time in their kitchen. Vac sealers are affordable and readily available, and not only ensure the food won't get soggy in the cooler but will keep 4-5x longer. If you can't quite carve out that kind of time, I recommend spending time on yelp to figure out some local food trucks and restaurants serving up good food. My gf and I do this where we live - we'll hit up a favorite bbq spot and ask them if they'll sell us a couple pounds of brisket (or pulled pork or whatever). They're usually happy to help, and get a kick out of the idea of us taking their stuff to the desert. Vac seal or at the very least pop it into a resealable container (most grocery stores carry good ones), and you've got great quality food coming from a licensed/accountable/responsible business.

If food is important to you, you may want to consider it as part of your decision making process on joining a camp. Several camps out there do offer the option to participate in a group meal plan, or the camp is able to provide a decent kitchen infrastructure (that way all you need to do is bring groceries from Reno).

Good luck sorting out your plans!

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