Blemished, deformed…I’ll take it

A new site offers a different way to buy your fruits and veggies

tiny artichokes in hand

I was laughing out loud when I read our November Garden Notebook column by Katie Mullin. She’s always got something funny to say. Coming soon, you’ll be able to read her saga about mutant carrots. I don’t want to give it all away, but in talking about her first harvest as a novice gardener, she reveals her many problems—one being produce that doesn’t look like it should.

She grew single carrots that looked like multiples fused together and micromini strawberries. It got me thinking: What happens when farmers grow a crop of less than perfect fruits and vegetables.

Size (and shape) matters
There’s a good chunk of produce (about 20 percent) grown in the United States that never reaches consumers because of imperfections that don’t affect the taste or quality. Maybe they’re too small, curve to the right or have blemished skins. Grocery stores don’t buy ugly. What a waste, right?

It’s what’s on the inside that counts
I actually just learned about—and tried—a new San Diego service that’s trying to alleviate the food waste problem. Imperfect Produce sources the ugly and surplus fruits and vegetables from 150 farms and producers and delivers them to your door for about 30 percent less than grocery store prices.

Different is good
Because the whole idea is less waste, Imperfect Produce won’t just send you a box of whatever they have. (I belonged to a CSA when I lived in New York, and I often got items I had no clue how to use.) No, with this service, you get exactly what you want. I picked potatoes, carrots, apples, cauliflower, tomatoes and avocados for my first box—a good mix of what I knew my family of four would eat in a week. The offerings change weekly so you can mix it up and try something new or opt for family favorites like me.

Honestly, before opening my box, I was expecting unrecognizable produce. I imagined it had to look pretty bad not to make it to market. But I was wrong. The apples, tomatoes and avocadoes, while maybe smaller than what’s available at the grocery store, were delicious.

The carrots weren’t perfectly straight but were great dipped in Ranch (my kids’ favorite); the potatoes were sort of all over the map in terms of size, but offered a nice complement to our pork tenderloin dinner. And the cauliflower, which looked perfect to me, roasted beautifully in the oven.

Sign up for the service on a weekly or biweekly basis. Choose small, medium, large or extra-large shipments for $12-$18 per box (that’s way cheaper than my VONS bill!). And any produce that Imperfect Produce doesn’t sell goes to Feeding San Diego hunger-relief charity and food bank. Now that’s perfect, wouldn’t you agree?



Categories: Entertaining, How-To Guides, Lifestyles, Tricks of the trade