Imagine a life where you just nursed your infant for the 1,000th time that day and, because you’re constantly starving, you walk over to the fridge, open it and discover a treasure trove of delicious, nutritious, filling meals that are ready to eat in less than two minutes. Or perhaps you’re a working mom, back in the swing. Once you’ve fed your ravenous toddler you need to figure out what you’re going to eat. And boom—you’ve got a fridge stocked with ready-to-eat meals that check every box on the parenting list. No, this isn’t some twisted fantasy, it’s actually the work of Territory Foods, a curated marketplace of better-for-you meals that connects local, health-forward chefs, restaurants, and culinary entrepreneurs to consumers with an appetite for healthy food, like you and your family.
Territory’s mission is to make eating better, easier. Its chefs and partners work with Territory’s team of dietitians to prepare responsibly sourced, nutrient-rich meals from scratch that taste incredible, all powered by customer data and science-backed nutrition. Territory’s ever-rotating menus feature fresh, non-inflammatory ingredients that optimize whole-body health, support a wide variety of preferences, and have a minimal environmental impact. And because their meals are prepared by chefs across the country working in their own kitchens, every Territory meal you buy is an investment in your community.
We sat down with Territory chief executive officer, Ellis McCue, a health-tech executive known for her foundational work in the “food as medicine” space. She’s on a mission to revolutionize the meal delivery category for busy families so that we can give ourselves another hour in the day doing what we love, or maybe just doing us. Here’s what she had to say.
What sets Territory apart from other services offering similar products?
The company was founded in 2010 at the height of the Paleo movement. There was this pivotal shift in healthy eating, and we started to see a decline in traditional weight-loss programs like the South Beach diet. Paleo was different. It was all about what you’re putting in your body and feeling good, not about losing weight. So we set out to be focused on real food, not processed food. It was the concept of clean eating. Part of the reason why I came to Territory was because I was watching the trend early, and it was in line with how I was living in terms of my own health.
I saw that Territory was, and is, doing something different. While similar brands use central commissary food factories, Territory is unique in that our network of chefs produces the meals within our local communities. Meaning, the food you receive in NYC or DC, comes directly from our chefs in those communities.We wanted quality products for our consumer. I love to eat Territory, and if we can find a way to bring healthy food to the customer, drive convenience, and make it delicious, that’s a winning model. We want to change the world through healthy food. Our staff dieticians work in concert with our network of chefs. No one else comes close to that.
How does your being a mother influence Territory and its approach?
I will say that the moment you become a mother, everything changes. As a businesswoman, I wasn’t expecting it. But the best thing about being a mom is that suddenly you have superhuman capabilities for prioritization. Becoming a mom underscored the value of Territory. It made it a stickier concept to me. Every mom should eat Territory postpartum and pre-birth as well. These phases are moments of insane friction. Your body’s changing, there are tons of hormones and emotions coursing through you. Territory offers a way to stay on track and stay healthy. You finish a Territory meal feeling full. Being a mom made me much more aware of and empathetic toward our customers who are new parents. It’s such an interesting, transformative moment. Also, our executive team is 60 percent female, so we have a lot of moms to provide first-hand knowledge on ways to continuously improve.
What do you hear the most from your family clients, and what issues are you looking to solve for busy families?
As our customer base started expanding, we received questions about women’s health and how food impacts the body. Again, it’s not about weight loss, but longevity. Territory has a goal to make sure pre-and postpartum women have the nutrients they need through this stage of life. On top of that, busy families are always trying to have it all. And the biggest problem new moms have—and all moms, frankly—is a tremendous amount of guilt and responsibility. The majority of our customers are working professionals, so now they have another thing on their plate. Everyone is looking for things to make their life easier. We offer convenience and high quality. I feed my two-year-old Territory every single night. If I can take the hour I was going to stress about making food for my family and reinvest it in myself, or play with my toddler instead of cooking for her, that’s super powerful.
How does Territory go beyond food?
Territory is rooted in relationships. I want us to be part of something bigger than a purchase transaction. I want us to build a better world. Territory serves as a marketplace, offering the tools, resources, and loyal customer base for local chefs and restaurants to expand without compromising on quality and taste. Our diverse network of chefs and restaurants is 36 percent BIPOC or Latina-owned businesses and 42 percent are female-owned. The industry average is seven percent. So when you buy from Territory, you’re also supporting a more equitable restaurant industry. Our model allows us to create jobs that help communities flourish and build a stronger middle class. Our responsibility is to our customers and communities, and to building a better economy and a better world. We’re focused on sustainability, the environment, health and wellness, the economy—all of it! And we’re dedicated to our working parents. There’s freedom in taking an extra hour to reinvest in yourself. We’re part of the team keeping families on track and keeping them happy.
This article was written in partnership with Territory Foods.