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Actress Zooey Deschanel Is Helping Consumers Eat Better

T.V. and movie star speaks to Progressive Grocer about partnering with Earth Fare to incentivize healthy eating
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Zooey Deschanel Merryfield
Merryfield's Learn & Earn program has now rolled out at two Earth Fare locations, with a companywide rollout coming Dec. 4.

Zooey Deschanel has long been a proponent of helping people get better information about their food in order to make the best choices they can. The actress, singer and entrepreneur, who is co-founder and chief creative officer at rewards app Merryfield, spoke with Progressive Grocer about her passion for food, as well as the company’s new partnership with Earth Fare to incentivize healthy eating.

When Deschanel was pregnant with her first child, she explained that she was trying to eat as healthy as possible but found it difficult to get the information she wanted from grocery stores, restaurants and other venues. “Your responsibility becomes so much greater because you’re looking out for somebody beyond yourself,” she said.

[Read more: "Salads: Meeting Consumers' Quest for Eating Better in a Convenient Way"]

Deschanel, who has worked in the food space for many years, is also the co-founder of The Farm Project, an initiative to help reconnect people with food, and Lettuce Grow, an indoor gardening company with a mission to inspire individuals and families to demand better from the U.S. food system.

Getting involved with Merryfield was a natural progression for Deschanel. The app company allows users to explore participating brands by scanning in-aisle QR codes that educate shoppers on the brands’ products and ingredients, and its Learn & Earn program offers rewards for both learning more about, and purchasing items from, those brands.

Merryfield recently announced that Earth Fare will be the first grocer in the nation to partner with Learn & Earn. Through the program, shoppers earn points that can later be redeemed for gift cards and other rewards, and they can also earn 5% cash back on participating brands by simply scanning their grocery receipt.

According to Deschanel, Merryfield holds its participating better-for-you brands to very high standards and expects a certain level of quality and environmental responsibility from their operations and their products. While getting information about your food can be an arduous process, she says Merryfield makes it much easier.

“We have that stuff very organized. That’s what we do,” Deschanel explained. “A big passion of ours is educating people about their food. Launching the Learn & Earn program is just an extension of that passion. Earth Fare is a perfect partner for us because they also share that passion for educating people about their food and making information about food open and accessible.”

For its part, Earth Fare already has a unique food philosophy that makes it easier for people to live a healthy lifestyle. “We like to say we read the labels so you don’t have to,” explained Laurie Aker, the grocer’s director of marketing. “It’s really the heart and soul of Earth Fare and who we are and what we stand for.” 

Aker further explained that Earth Fare’s mission aligned well with that of Merryfield, making the company a perfect partner. The two companies got the Learn & Earn program up and running in a matter of months and it is currently live in two locations. The initiative will go companywide on Dec. 4. 

“Our customer base is so hungry for information,” Aker said. “It’s all about education and Merryfield is really another layer to that educational component that we can offer folks.”

Operated since 2020 by hospitality and medical facility management company Hulsing Enterprises; its president and CEO, Dennis Hulsing; and Kugler, Asheville, N.C.-based Earth Fare operates more than 19 natural and organic grocery stores in eight Midwestern and Southeastern states. 

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