More than 20% of the fruits and vegetables grown in America never make it off the farm because they aren’t perfect enough for grocery store standards. As a consumer, this number is surprising. As a backyard gardener, this number make me sad. I can’t imagine not eating 20% of my tomatoes because they don’t look pretty enough! It’s obvious that just because a vegetable doesn’t meet a cosmetic standard for grocery stores it doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good!
A number of folks are starting to pay attention to food waste and are taking steps to reduce wasted food. Some grocery stores, Walmart and Kroger stores included, are starting to sell “ugly” fruits and vegetables at a discount to customers. A few people also took notice, and created Imperfect Produce, a company that is getting less than perfect fruits and vegetables into the hands of consumers at a discount. Imperfect Produce sources ugly fruits and vegetables and delivers them to customers through a subscription box service.
I like reducing waste and discounts, so I was excited when I found out that Imperfect Produce was coming to the Seattle area! I live in North Seattle and was excited to give Imperfect Produce a try. (Imperfect Produce isn’t available in the entire Seattle area yet, but you can sign up in advance for when delivery starts in Kirkland.) I’ve been getting an Imperfect Produce box every other week for the past couple months, and wanted to report back.
How the Imperfect Produce Subscription Box Works
The Imperfect Produce experience has been fun! Each week I get an email letting me know that it’s time to customize my box. Imperfect Produce will set up a default box, but I can go in and add or subtract things from what they’ve selected. This is helpful because you may already have a ton of sweet potatoes and not want more for the week, or maybe like me, you just really don’t like beets. Each week I have found I usually want to customize the box a little bit, though one week I forgot (gave some beets to a friend that week :)). There’s organic and conventional produce available.
There’s also information on the website about where the produce is coming from and why it’s available on imperfect produce. It might be due to size, shape, or scarring, or might even just be surplus, which means there’s nothing wrong with it, there’s just too much! It’s been fun to see what extra items Imperfect Produce is able to source and offer customers too. I got some imperfect coffee (a weird coffee bean) and imperfect olive oil (the temperature wasn’t quite right for it to be made into Extra Virgin Olive Oil), and both tasted great.
Verdict: My Produce Might Not Look Perfect, But It Tastes Like It!
The box of produce is delivered to my house on Fridays. It’s all just loose in a cardboard box – not a bunch of plastic bags. For the most part, everything we’ve gotten has looked great, and not even imperfect! The onions I’ve gotten are often smaller than usual, and a few carrots have bent a little crooked.
Overall, I’m really happy with Imperfect Produce. It’s fun to see what’s available, and try some different things. I enjoy that it comes right to my house, and has minimal packaging. It feels good to eat food that would otherwise get wasted. And best of all, while some might be visually imperfect – everything has tasted great.