Startup Saving ‘Ugly Food’ From Landfills and Saving Customers Money

One San Francisco-area startup believes it is what’s on the inside that counts.

About 20 percent of fruits and vegetables grown on farms don’t make it to supermarkets every year, usually for cosmetic reasons. Imperfect Produce is buying these funky-shaped carrots, potatoes, and more for about 50 percent cheaper from farmers than they would sell to grocery stores, and then selling them to customers for $12 to $18 a box, according to a New York Times video.

MORE: No-Waste Recipes for a Feel-Good Thanksgiving

“Food waste is a huge problem,” says Ben Chesler, the chief operating officer of Imperfect Produce. “It is one of the leading solids by weight in our nation’s landfill system. When it rots in those landfills, it releases methane, which is really bad for the environment.”

MORE: 7 Tips for Cutting Down on Food Waste From a Pro

The startup is only a few weeks old, but is already moving around 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of produce a week. The goal is to move 30,000 to 40,000 by the end of the year.

The food may be a bit ugly, but the mission is beautiful.

MORE: A Scientist’s Tips for Reducing Food Waste at Home