We all know there’s a big problem with food waste. So if you’re not the type to fuss too much about picking the perfect apple in the stack at the grocery store, a new food delivery service might be the solution for you AND for the environment. You may have already seen friends posting on social media about a company called Imperfect Produce, a CSA-style program that delivers just slightly bruised or weird-looking veggies to you. They’re still tasty, but just not quite as pretty as you may be used to.
The company started on college campuses with the goal of reducing food waste and now spans 180 colleges and universities. The USDA estimates that 30-40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted, which equals about 133 billion pounds and produces excess amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. So, it’s a big deal and is being tackled at a few levels.
The thing is that most of this “ugly” produce is totally tasty and perfectly usable, it’s just harder to sell. If you can embrace slightly less pretty produce, you can save a pretty penny and help out with the food waste problem. Imperfect Produce purchases this less-than-perfect produce directly from farms, reducing a lot of overhead. There’s nothing wrong with the produce outside of it being oddly-shaped, surplus, or just discolored. They like to called them “cosmetically challenged.”
It’s no big deal when you’re chopping it all up for a stew or salad. They also attempt to limit food waste in homes by offering small, medium, or large boxes with sizing guides based on household size and cooking frequency. They’re even starting to sell this produce in some Whole Foods stores.
There are similar consumer-based apps out there, like Pareup, which connects buyers with unsold, unexpired food at a discounted price. Hungry Harvest is Maryland-based and has a similar business model to Imperfect Produce: “ugly” fruits and vegetables delivered to you.
Another startup, Cerplus, is doing it the B2B way by targeting restaurants, juice bars, and caterers to connect less pretty produce with consumers. Yet more, Copia and Zero Percent, allows restaurants and food providers to have their excess food picked and donated directly to homeless shelters. Another, WiSErg, collects food waste from retailers, grocers and commercial kitchens and turns it into fertilizer.
It’s likely to be a whole new wave of attempting to save the scraps we all, consumers and businesses, waste.
Are you down to try some less-than-attractive fruits and veggies to save money and potentially the Earth? Are you already doing it?