Imperfect Produce is a food box with a difference armed with a mission to end food waste. Blemishes on apples and blotches on avocados are "beauty marks" on food that is perfectly imperfect and equally as nutritious and delicious as their "perfect" counterparts. Twenty billion pounds of "ugly" produce goes to waste in the USA each year. Connecting farmers with consumers, Imperfect Produce is on the road to change this one food box at a time with their subscription service.
At Abeego, we're all about putting food back into people's hands by reigniting the intimacy between ourselves and the natural world. We love what Imperfect Produce is doing by challenging how society has been trained to see food and to deepen the value of all food. We caught up with Ben Simon, CEO and Co-Founder of Imperfect Produce this month for an inspiring conversation, grounded in nature and connected by food.
HOW IS IMPERFECT PRODUCE FIGHTING FOOD WASTE?
We’re working to recover the 20 billion pounds of produce that never makes it off the farm, much of it because of the strict and unnecessary cosmetic standards of grocery stores. Produce that’s a little too big or too small, the wrong shape or color, or has a little surface-level scarring often gets left behind in the fields even though it’s just as delicious and healthy as its perfect counterparts. This is an unbelievable injustice and we’re fighting to change it.
WHAT HAS THE IMPACT BEEN ON THE FARMERS YOU WORK WITH?
We’re proud to make farming more environmentally and economically sustainable for all of the growers that we work with. Anytime they have to leave produce in the field, it amounts to a big financial loss in addition to the waste of water, land, fertilizer, labor, and fuel.
Even if a farmer can sell their “ugly” produce to become processed food, juice, or animal feed, they make little to no profit, and often even lose money. With Imperfect, we pay a fair price for what they grow, no matter how ugly it is, which can feed more people with every acre that they plant. This is better for the farmers, the customer, and the planet!
HOW CAN WE ALL TAKE PART IN REDUCING FOOD WASTE?
The research by ReFED about where food is wasted in America tells us that over 40% of it goes to waste after we bring it home. How we shop, store, and cook our food speaks volumes about how we value (or don’t value) food in this country. Our top three tips for wasting less food in your life are:
- Shop your fridge and pantry before you shop the store so you won’t buy things you already have and can prioritize using up what you have around.
- Shop with a list and a meal plan so you’re buying things that you have a plan for cooking and that compliment what you already have at home.
- Store your fresh produce properly. Keep your onions separate from your potatoes so they don’t make your potatoes sprout early. Store your herbs like cut flowers in a jar of water in the fridge. These little tips go a long way when it comes to avoiding food waste at home. Products like Abeego make a huge difference too because they help you store food correctly without creating additional waste in the form of single-use plastics!
WHERE DO YOU SEE IMPERFECT PRODUCE IN 5 YEARS? 10 YEARS?
We want to be a national company serving all major cities in the US and leading the way in affordable online grocery. In the next 5+ years, we envision ourselves serving major US cities and recovering billions of pounds of produce a year instead of the millions we’re recovering today.
We will also be tackling food waste in all its forms, not just produce. We’re sourcing all sorts of food items that needlessly go to waste for labelling mistakes, meaningless “best by” dates that are less than 6 months away, and other senseless reasons. We’re also rolling out our own line of staple groceries so that you can do more of your shopping in one convenient place and still make a difference.
WHAT DOES KEEP FOOD ALIVE MEAN TO YOU?
Growing and preparing food is a labor of love, so consuming it should always be an act of thoughtfulness and gratitude. We're all wired to care deeply about food and each other, but we have to set the stage for these type of positive relationships. Anytime we approach food with gratitude, we waste a whole lot less and enjoy eating it a whole lot more!
Imperfect Produce is doing inspiring things! Visit the Imperfect Produce website to learn more about their mission and get inspiring food-saving tips and delicious recipes to help you use up all your food.