Eco-Friendly Start-Up Sells Ugly Fruits and Veggies

By Carl Engelking | August 19, 2015 1:58 pm

double apple

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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts
  • Niki Miller

    Where’s the link to order them?

  • Mouna Brs

    Are these people insane?? how could they throw them away jut like that? In my country we don’t care about the shape!!! we eat as they are!!

    • sabelmouse

      people are weird! i wouldn’t either.

  • Me

    Cancer is often described as a disease that causes unusual un-controlled aggressive cellular growth. Hmmm. I don’t know how much research has been done on cancers in plants. Just something to think about. I’ve eaten ny share of odd shaped produce and double or triple yolked eggs. But this thought was first in my mind when reading about a service that wants to specialize in ONLY these misshapen products.

    • will777

      I believe you are attempting to compare apples to oranges. Or in this case, unsymmetrical produce to uncontrolled aggressive cellular growth (which does produce unsymmetrical shapes) . Two completely different things. That would be like saying that all oranges are an orange color, therefore all things that are orange colored are oranges.
      If this was the first thing that came to mind, you may want to analyze your perception of being biased to seeing many things as negative that aren’t. I could be wrong (and am many times), but just an outsider’s observation to possibly help you have a more enjoyable experience.

  • sabelmouse

    but what is that in the picture?

  • Kathy Doubleu

    KUDOS to these humans, with so many people in poverty who have poor health, this will help them sustain life and perhaps lower the need for medical. That should shut up the asshats who complain about poor people

  • OWilson

    Just after the war in Europe we were still on rations. Every food stuff was valuable and nothing was wasted, We even had two garbage bins, a regular one and a “pig” bin, that took care of potato peelings etc. These went to feed livestock.

    At our local shops, bruised and spotted fruit and vegetables were sold off a little more cheaply, with nothing wasted.

    The concept of “seconds” is not new, especially in clothing, and there will always be a ready market.

  • Jk

    What a wasteful society we live in (Americas) I too am guilty of picking through the fruit to find the best looking and tasting of the lot.
    After reading this I am reminded of my youth, growing up in a family of 10, I was happy to just get an apple, let alone how it looked.
    Reminiscing reminds me, that I have been taking my blessings for granted; I think It’s time to change.
    Maybe gardening?
    Maybe a smaller house?
    In any case, I think it’s time to start leaving smaller and fewer foot prints in this world.

  • Overburdened_Planet

    A local Asian market sells imperfect produce, cheap.

    They don’t have air conditioning, and yes, there are flies, but that’s what I saw when I lived overseas in a Third World country.

    Americans can get used to it, especially if we become poorer.


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