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Eco-Friendly Start-Up Sells Ugly Fruits and Veggies

By Carl Engelking
Aug 19, 2015 10:58 PMNov 20, 2019 3:37 AM


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They’re ugly. They’re misshapen. They’re perfectly edible. But these fruit and veggies will never make it to the produce section in your grocery store. Vast quantities of asymmetrical fruit and veggies are cast aside on the farm simply because we like our roughage to look beautiful before we chew it up in our mouths. Now a new start-up, called Imperfect, hopes to change that. The company plans to collect rejected produce and ship 10-14 pounds of oddball deliciousness to your doorstep, and it’ll only cost $12.

Waste Not Want Not

As food journeys from field to plate, 40 percent of it will be wasted. According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, that amounts to $165 billion in wasted food, and don’t forget about the water resources and fossil fuels used to produce and ship that food. We cast aside food that doesn’t look right, grocery stores discard items past their sell-by date, and we’ve all purchased foods that sit in the pantry for years only to end up in the waste basket. Imperfect is among a handful of companies looking to reduce the amount of waste in the food system. The company ships boxes of mixed fruits, mixed vegetables or a combination of both (that later is $18). The company works with supermarkets and food distributors to gather their rejects, package them and send them to a hungry home.

(Credit: Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock) Farmers earn a little extra income on produce that would be wasted, customers get inexpensive produce, and each pound of produce purchased saves 10 to 35 gallons of water. There are a lot of winners. Unfortunately, Imperfect’s services are only available, currently, in Oakland and Berkeley, California. The company will ship to places as far as Seattle or Dallas, however.

Selling Past Sell By

On another front, former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch opened a non-profit grocery store, Daily Table, in Massachusetts earlier this year. Unlike your typical grocery store, Daily Table sells foods that have all outlasted the “sell-by” date on their packaging. Daily Table’s prices are considerably lower than your traditional store, and it provides a healthy option for low-income families or bargain-loving shoppers. Rauch has been careful to point out that just because a food has passed the sell-by date doesn’t mean it is unsafe or bad to eat. It sure beats throwing it all in the garbage. The United States has an abundant food supply, and companies like Imperfect and Daily Table are working to ensure we don’t take that for granted.

Top image by Jorg Hackemann/ Shutterstock

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