If you’ve been following me for awhile there’s a good chance you’ve heard me rave about Imperfect Produce. I’ve been receiving their produce boxes since 2017 (!!!) and am still just as obsessed with them as I was when they started.
Imperfect Produce is essentially an alternative CSA. 20% of fruits and veggies don’t make it off the farm because they’re not “pretty enough”. Seriously. Grocery stores don’t take them because they know they won’t sell them if they look funny, have a scratch or a bruise. Also, farming isn’t predictable. Sometimes you grow more yield than there is demand from conventional grocery stores or there’s just a boom within a particular industry. Imperfect Produce gets those fruits and veggies from the farms (whether imperfect or overproduced) and then sells them to their customers at 30% less than what we would normally pay at the grocery store. It’s a pretty cool concept that has helped have a massive impact on food waste in the US.
Make sure you use the code HEALTHYMAVEN at checkout to save 50% off your first box!
Why is Something Considered “Imperfect”?
Imperfect Produce has narrowed down six major ways that perfectly good food could end up going to waste:
1. Cosmetic – Typically in a grocery store, consumers look for the best looking fruits and veggies. Do you ever intentionally pick up the deformed carrot or the bruised apple? Didn’t think so. The truth is, these fruits and veggies are perfectly good!
2. Off Spec – Food buyers typically have strict specifications when it comes to harvesting and packaging the food. If something is off, they won’t take it and then the farmer is left with perfectly good products.
3. Surplus – Farmer’s can never predict how successful a crop may be. Some seasons, there is a surplus of a certain product and the market can be oversaturated with a particular product. Food buyers can also back out of large orders leaving farmers with excess amounts of a product that they have nothing to do with.
4. Undervalued – How sad is this category? Perfectly good food goes to waste because there isn’t a demand or people don’t understand that it is a nutritious and perfectly normal part of the plant. Broccoli stems and leaves are a great example!
5. Packaging Change – When food brands get a makeover, the outdated branding sometimes is deemed “unsellable” even though it’s the same product on the inside.
6. Short-Coded – Traditional grocery stores only stock items that have expirations dates more than a few months out. If a product has a short expiration date, it’s likely it won’t even make the shelf.
What about Non-Produce Items?
As indicated above, it’s not just produce that goes to waste. Due to a packaging change or a product being short-coded, perfectly good non-perishables are also frequently going to waste. Not only is this food still delicious (and nutritious!) there’s generally absolutely nothing physically wrong or defective about them. This is where Imperfect Produce steps in and can help get these products into the hands of consumers before they go to waste.
One of the reasons I love Imperfect Produce is because they’ve now expanded beyond produce. They’ve made it possible for me to get olive oil for the fraction of the cost by working directly with farmers who have an overproduction or short grain brown rice that may have a slight imperfection but still cooks up just as well.
Currently I’m really into their crimson lentils which is a partnership with an organic grain company in Montana where the grain company harvested over 250,000 pounds of lentils for a big buyer, only to have the buyer downsize their order at the last minute. Another example is their Sightglass coffee beans collaboration that would normally be almost double the price (it’s one of the best coffee roasters in SF!) but because they’re buying the peaberries, which are a single round seed instead of the normal duo they’re able to offer sustainable and delicious coffee at a fraction of the cost. Their olive oil is also delicious and saves money on what would otherwise be a very expensive product.
In addition to their own food products, Imperfect Produce is also working with non-perishable producers to also offer their products that have either been short-coded or have some kind of packaging change to make sure these products don’t go to waste either. Their offerings are getting more and more extensive each week!
How Does Imperfect Produce Work?
First things first, see if Imperfect Produce is in your area! If not, leave a comment below of where you’d love to see it and I’ll pass along to the team. 🙂 If they deliver to your area, you’ll simply choose which box size and type you’d like – they have small, medium, large and extra large as well as an organic and conventional option. Find the pricing breakdown here! Each week, you have the opportunity to customize what comes in your box! If you don’t customize your box, you’ll get their selection of fruits and veggies for the week. They deliver the box directly to your door and then it’s your job to get in the kitchen and use your Imperfect Produce.
I’m so excited that Imperfect Produce is also offering more non-perishables and their perfectly imperfect line of staples as well! Make sure you use the code HEALTHYMAVEN at checkout to save 50% off your first box!
This video is a few years old now but it gives you a good sense of what to expect from your Imperfect Produce box!
- I interviewed Imperfect Produce’s community manager Reilly on my podcast, That’s So Maven. A must listen!
- I made this Sweet Potato Cornbread and Roasted Acorn Squash Soup using Imperfect Produce. So delicious!
Disclaimer: This post is NOT sponsored by Imperfect Produce, it does however contain some affiliate links. I genuinely love them and support their mission and wanted to share the love with you.
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