- Eat more ugly fruit and veggies -
Imperfect Produce fights food waste, supports farmers and improves access to healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables
Does my potato look lumpy in this sack?
No, really — do you find misshapen or oversize vegetables unappealing?
Evidently, American consumers do. People have been conditioned over the years to see uniform, perfect-looking produce in the grocery store. In fact, one in five fruits and vegetables grown in the United States doesn't meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores, and is left to rot on the farm.
Does a twisted carrot taste different from a straight carrot?
Does an oversize sweet potato have different nutritional value than a perfectly tapered one?
Such a waste of food, water, man power, fossil fuel, fertilizer and more.
Enter Imperfect Produce, an innovative company that is bringing the misshapen, delicious food to tables via their new delivery service started in the Portland metro area Aug. 14.
Irked by the amount of food being wasted on his college campus, Imperfect Produce CEO Ben Simon founded the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a nonprofit dedicated to preventing waste on college campuses. He met Imperfect Produce co-founder Ben Chelser during his work with FRN. The two Bens were introduced to Ron Clark, who had spent decades working in the produce supply world.
The trio founded Imperfect in August 2015 to make an impact on the amount of produce that goes to waste every year by sourcing ugly produce directly from the farms and delivering it at a discount to customers' homes. Imperfect's delivery service has expanded to the Portland metro area, so now we can jump of the band wagon of eating delicious, nutritious ugly produce too.
I had an opportunity to visit with Portland's Imperfect General Manager Evan Pierce recently about the new service. The company is on a social mission to eliminate food waste, help farmers benefit from a full harvest and make healthy fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable.
From my husband Mark's garden we eat vegetables that may be oversize, undersize, knobby or otherwise irregular in shape. So my Imperfect box of produce looked perfectly normal. There was one large, softball-shaped sweet potato and the green peppers were perhaps too big, but I didn't notice anything unusual or ugly about the produce. Everything was fresh, delicious and tantalizing.
"Wasting less food is about eating better and supporting farmers," Evan said. "By eating Imperfect fruits and veggies, you're helping to change the food system, improve access to healthy food and protect the environment from the greenhouse gases emitted by uneaten, decomposing food in landfills."
Evan explained that grocers like produce to be exact sizes that stack easily to make great looking displays, so they reject oddly shaped produce. There is nothing wrong with the food other than its appearance.
Imperfect tries to source their fruits and vegetables from regional farmers and uses a local delivery model with different distribution hubs.
"We deliver our boxes as quickly as possible from farm to doorstep," Evan said. "Our new warehouse is located within the Portland metro area for easier distribution and quality control."
Boxes come in a variety of sizes for singles and families, and each box can be customized — you choose each item that arrives in your box each week.
Prices are 30 to 50 percent lower than grocery store prices. The exact cost depends on what you select that week. A small box costs around $12 and a large box costs about $18. The organic boxes are slightly more expensive than conventional boxes, but the organic produce is still offered at a significant discount.
Evan said Imperfect helps close the loop on food waste by keeping more than 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date, the company has kept more than 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste. He points out that not wasting food ends up saving wasted water, fossil fuels, fertilizer, labor and land.
Imperfect is convenient, making deliveries right to your door. This makes meal planning and grocery shopping easier too.
By using Imperfect you can help end food waste and hunger. Evan says the company is dedicated to helping close the loop on this important social and environmental issue. They partner with local food banks and donate thousands of pounds of produce every week.
"By eating Imperfect fruits and veggies you're helping to change the food system, improve access to healthy food and protect the environment from greenhouse gasses emitted by uneaten, decomposing food in landfills," Evan said. "Our company has kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste at a time when one in eight families are struggling to put food on the table. We want to eliminate the ideas of a 'food desert' with more accessibility and lower prices for families looking for healthy options."
To learn more, visit imperfectproduce.com.
Today's recipe is a unique one for peaches. Try these Pickled Peaches for a delicious twist on the fruit. And you can't go wrong just slicing a ripe juice peach into a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Bon appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Makes about 6 pints
3 cups sugar
2 cups distilled white vinegar
12 sticks cinnamon
36 whole cloves
18 soft peaches
In a large nonreactive (stainless steel) stockpot over medium heat, bring 1 cup water, sugar, vinegar, 6 cinnamon sticks and 18 cloves to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add peaches. Gently simmer, without reaching a boil, until peaches are heated through and a fork pierces the fruit with no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, divide peaches among 6 sterilized 1-pint canning jars, placing peaches cavity side down. Add 1 of the remaining cinnamon sticks and 3 of the remaining cloves to each jar. Ladle cooking liquid into jars, filling each to within a 1/2-inch of the rim. Wipe the rim of each jar rim with a clean, wet cloth to remove any syrup or bits of fruit; then top each jar with a flat lid and screw on a threaded ring band without tightening completely.
Roll jars on their sides to release any air bubbles that might be trapped in peach cavities; turn upright. Remove ring bands and lids, and add more cooking liquid, if needed because of settling, to fill jars to within 1/2-inch of rim. Replace lids and threaded ring bands, tightening completely to seal. Store pickled peaches in refrigerator for up to 8 weeks.
(Recipe from CountryLiving.com)