What Happens To Ugly Produce
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Four of the Best Ugly Produce Companies, to Avoid Food Waste

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Feb. 9 2021, Updated 3:05 p.m. ET

People are particular about the way food looks, especially when it pertains to produce. We have this idea that if an apple is bruised, a banana is brown, or potato is beginning to sprout, that the whole of that piece of produce is completely inedible. The same is true for crooked carrots, asymmetrical peppers, and crooked pineapples. Food that is deemed too ugly is often thrown away but many “ugly” produce companies are rising up to combat this wasteful behavior

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ugly produce companies
Source: Getty Images

What is ugly produce?

Shockingly, as per NDRC, 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted at different points along the supply chain. Farms, distributors, stores, and consumers are all guilty of throwing away perfectly good food, and one of the main reasons for this has to do with the aesthetics of the food itself. Produce is especially susceptible in this way because apparently nobody likes a crooked cucumber. 

Consumers in the U.S. have fairly unrealistic expectations about what fruits and vegetables are supposed to look like. The cosmetic deficiencies of a bruised apple are usually enough for it to be completely out of the running. Farmers and stores are well aware of this, and as a result, much of the “ugly” produce doesn’t even make its way to the display case. 

What are ugly produce companies and how do they work?

ugly produce companies
Source: Getty Images

Luckily, several companies have sprung up in recent years that fight this egregious waste of perfectly good food. The four companies listed below are attempting to give life and purpose to even the ugliest produce. 

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Misfits Market

Source: Instagram

Misfits Market is a Philadelphia and New Jersey-based company that was started in 2018. They're working to break the cycle of food waste by focusing specifically on customers living in urban or highly populated areas. According to the website, the company works directly with farmers and makers to rescue any organic produce or grocery items that might otherwise have gone to waste.

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Misfits Market then delivers those groceries to your door in eco-friendly packaging, at a discounted price. Consumers can choose large or small boxes of produce and choose from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Boxes cost between $22 and $35. 

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Imperfect Foods

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Like Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods' main focus is on metropolitan areas, delivering to 25 cities nationwide. Unlike other companies on this list, Imperfect Foods allows customers to customize their food boxes. Consumers can choose from four different box sizes, choose organic or conventional, and can swap things in and out of the box if the randomized one isn’t exactly what they wanted. 

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You can also add other grocery items like pantry items, dairy, or eggs. Perhaps the only downside of the company is the fact that imperfect Foods employs their own delivery drivers, which means delivery options are somewhat limited. Still, fewer trucks on the road mean less pollution, so we’ll just accept the fact that we have to plan around a schedule. Imperfect Foods products are priced individually but do require a $30 or $40 minimum in some areas, plus a delivery fee.

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Hungry Harvest

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Hungry Harvest hasn’t always been successful — the company has struggled and been harassed by angry customers, but its founders persevered, and today, the company is thriving. According to the Hungry Harvest website, the company has helped to reduce over 20 million pounds of food. Customers can choose an array of customizable order options all at affordable prices. 

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Currently, Hungry Harvest only delivers to nine states, but it’s still expanding. It offers a wide range of prices on their "harvests" that run between $15 and $45. 

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Preserve Farm Kitchens

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Preserve Farm Kitchens is another unique food waste specialist that is quite literally preserving every scrap of produce it can find. Instead of mailing you the ugliest fruits and veggies, Preserve Farm Kitchens takes all of them and mixes them into a delicious array of preserves and cooking sauces. 

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The California-based company is fervent about the idea that everyone benefits from utilizing otherwise wasted produce — not just the farmers and consumers, but the environment as well. Products range from about $12 to $15 a jar or $30 and $50 for bundles. 

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ugly produce companies
Source: Getty Images
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What are the benefits of buying ugly produce?

The benefits of buying ugly produce are pretty obvious, if you think about it. First and foremost, buying ugly produce is good for the environment. It prevents perfectly good food from going to waste. Also, because these companies understand sustainability, their methodologies tend to reflect an educated, environmental mindset.

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Second, it might actually save you some money. According to The Fioneers, buying produce from an ugly produce company like Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods could see you spending 30 to 50 percent less on your produce than you would at the supermarket. 

Happy feasting!

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