I have a confession to make. As a kidlet, my gorgeous dad would wake up and make all four of us gourmet wraps and sandwiches for school. For whatever reason … that lunch bell would sound and I’d proceed to throw it in rubbish bin. Why? No bloody clue. Perhaps some poorly thought out act of defiance. Literally breaks my heart thinking about it. All that love my dad put into those sandwiches and little dummy over here just chucks it away. Obviously, sentimentally that is THE WORST, but what about the money and fresh produce I discarded!? Serious facepalm. As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of global environmental & social issues; particularly the positive impact I can have on them by focusing on my personal behaviour and habits in a micro fashion. Foodwise, this for me started with becoming vegetarian and more recently I’ve been working on finding ways I can minimise my food wastage. The environmental impact of mass produced fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) has been a recent point of interest to me, particularly the inherent wastefulness that goes hand-in-hand with FMCGs. That is how I came across Imperfect Produce. A small company with a mighty cause. Imperfect Produce sources rejected or “ugly” fruits and veggies straight from farms and delivers them to your door for 30-50% less than grocery store prices. Sounds too good to be true, but I assure you there is no catch.
Not so fun facts according to Imperfect Produce
20% of fresh produce goes to waste.
Food is the second largest contributor to US landfills.
Food waste ends up wasting ¼ of our water supply (keep in mind California is in drought!)
According to the UN, the food that currently goes to waste could feed the 800 million hungry people in the world twice over.
When food waste in the landfills rot, it becomes a large source of methane gas … methane gas is a huge contributor to global warming.
If ‘food waste’ were a country it would be the third worst contributor to greenhouse gases behind China and the USA.
Grocery Story produce standards
Grocery stores have strict cosmetic standards when it comes to fresh produce. 1 in 5 pieces of produce grown in the US don’t meet these shallow cosmetic standards and end up going to waste. Essentially driven past the homeless and hungry people on the streets and tossed into landfill. Having a fabulous looking display of oranges stacked high in a tower, all emanating a vibrant orange glow is more appealing to peckish shoppers planning their lunch boxes for the week. Consequently, tons of perfectly edible food go to waste. Us as customers have become conditioned to seek perfection and now these standards are consumer driven. We judge our produce by the cover not what’s inside and feed this machine fueled on waste and greed. BUT LOOK HOW CUTE THEY ARE!!!!?????
A tad too fruitful
Another way Imperfect Produce gains stock is oversupply. Sometimes farms have unforeseen oversized crop or yield that doesn’t meet the demand of the supermarket. Imperfect Produce will take the excess stock off the farmers’ hands for a discounted price so the farmers don’t have to find a way to get rid of it.
When grocery stores reject produce this impact farmers directly. Firstly, they lose money because the produce is not purchased by stores. Then, often they must pay to get it removed. Imperfect Produce works directly with farmers to find homes for this unwanted produce – it’s a subscription service currently operating in the Bay Area, LA, Portland, Orange County and soon Seattle.
They still taste great!
It’s very important to note that the produce don't meet cosmetic guidelines, not the more important guidelines of taste or quality. In your Imperfect Produce box of goodies, the carrot may be crooked, the orange discoloured, the lemon skin scarred or you may find veggies with size or shape irregularities but rest assured they taste just as fresh as their grocery store selected friends. It's the beauty on the inside that counts! ☺
Here's some yummies I made with my imperfect produce goodies from last week!
Spiced potato wedges with guacamole
Roast butternut pumpkin stuffed with fresh arugula & pomegranate salad
How much does a box cost!?
It does depend what’s going in the box each week but small box around $12 and large around $18. Organic boxes are slightly more expensive but still much cheaper than standard grocery store organic produce. You can also customise each week … this week I got Black Radishes. I’ve never cooked with them before so thought it would be fun!
Low Income individuals
Keeping their social impact at a high, Imperfect Produce also offer discounted boxes to low income individuals and families. Given you fit the criteria they will deliver you a box of produce at a price 50% cheaper than your average grocery store.
We have more than enough food to feed the hungry of the world. It’s already being produced the problem is in distribution. By using everything our farmers grow including the “ugly produce” we can feed more people with less waste, less fossil fuels and less water. Everyone from the farmer, to the consumer, and importantly the planet wins.
I also just want to say that food waste is not just from grocery store rejection. Every time we scrape our plates, let food in our fridge go moldy because we eat out a lot one week, throw away leftovers … we are compounding the problem. How creative can you get in creating new meals with what’s in your fridge and pantry? How can you make a change in your everyday life to combat your food wastage? Hot tip: I often freeze food if I know I’m going away for the weekend or going to be out a lot!
I really hope this inspired you to be a bit more mindful of your personal food wastage. Little changes make a HUGE difference! If you're within one of the Imperfect Produce delivery locations try it for yourself! Their instagram and blog page are also filled with great tips, recipes, facts and ADORABLE images of quirky looking fruits and veg. As you can tell i'm really enjoying my produce box every week!
Much love and happy cooking!