Have you ever walked through a grocery store and considered why all of carrots look nearly identical? Surely some are a bit longer or thicker, but all in all they have that iconic carrot shape. But not all carrots are simply “born beautiful.” In fact nearly all of the produce that ends up in grocery stores has gone through a rigorous vetting process that leaves a ton of fruits and veggies with atypical appearance to end up surplus piles, or worse, the garbage. In recent years, plenty of organizations have made it their mission to expose this process and provide that supposedly unwanted produce (that tastes just as good as its “prettier” counterparts) to the public. And now, you can get this produce delivered right to your home!
Imperfect Foods is a produce box delivery service with a mission to send produce, dry goods and other food that would have otherwise gone uneaten, right to your door. According to the company “20 billion pounds of fresh produce go unharvested or unsold each year“ which is a big contributing factor to the fact that “40% of the food in the US is uneaten”. Imperfect Foods promises that by getting your produce from them, you'll contribute to their fight in reducing food waste, while spending up to 30% than you would in traditional grocery stores.
We tried out this impactful, exciting delivery service and compiled all of our thoughts below.
How It Works
The signup process with Imperfect Foods is simple. Before you do anything else, you’ll enter in your zip code to confirm that they can deliver to your location. Next, you’ll be asked how many people you’ll be feeding (1 to 2, 3 to 4 or 5+) and if you have any broad dietary restrictions such as being low-carb, vegetarian, or vegan. Finally, you can let them know if the produce you eat is largely organic, standard or both. They will then tailor a grocery box for you with a sliding scale to adjust the amount of produce and with the ability to add on things like their “Meat & Fish Pack” or a “Grains Pack”.
Each week, the Imperfect Foods team will hand select a grocery cart for you, filled with fruits, veggies and any add-ons you’ve selected. A few days before your delivery, you will be given a shopping window where you can fully customize your box to purchase produce just like you would in the store. The only restriction they may put on your box, depending on where you live, is a $30 order minimum.
When shopping, you see the price of your item, where it is coming from, and the reason for it coming into the hands of Imperfect Foods. This can range from anything like blemishes on banana peels and yellow coloring on chili peppers to a surplus from a participating grower. We loved this transparency, and the glimpse it gave us into the realities of food waste in the US.
Your produce box will arrive in a box made of “100% recycled content”. In fact, for certain parts of their packaging, like the cooling bags and insulation liners, Imperfect Foods even offers a Packaging Return Program so that they can reuse them in future boxes. What you’ll find beyond the packaging is not unlike what you’d find in someone's basket after going to the farmers market: loosely, but safely, packed delicious looking produce, just begging to be devoured.
After going through a box full of broccoli, jalapeños, carrots and so much more, we were so delighted by the quality and convenience this box provided. Though certain parts of produce may have appeared unconventional, as soon as they were sliced, chopped, braised or sautéed, no one would have been able to tell the difference. Another added benefit to this box is that if you let Imperfect Foods staff pick your groceries, you can be inspired to make dishes and meals based on what you received. We turned slightly less spherical red cabbage, bruised carrots, and surplus ground turkey into delicious turkey burgers with multi-color slaw. With the kale and fresh garlic, we quickly made a sauté with a bit of olive oil and lemon. We fried a couple of eggs to serve over the greens and had the perfect healthy lunch.
We think that Imperfect Produce is a fun and educational way to get involved in the effort to reduce food waste. The sign up and ordering process is straightforward and the produce, though maybe slightly imperfect, is fresh, flavorful and delicious.
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