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Produce Delivery

Emeryville-based Imperfect Produce is giving cosmetically challenged fruits and veggies a second chance.


Courtesy of Imperfect Produce

As the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Turns out, the same is true for fruits and vegetables. Crooked carrots, misshapen potatoes, lopsided apples, blemished lemons—they don’t look pretty, but they’re just as tasty as their more photogenic counterparts.

These perfectly good foods are often rejected by supermarkets and produce distributors for being the wrong shape, size, or color. As a result, about 20 percent of the produce grown in the United States goes uneaten. Roughly three billion pounds of food go to waste in California alone.

Imperfect Produce is changing that by selling “ugly” produce that would otherwise be destined for the trash. The Emeryville-based start-up buys cosmetically challenged produce from West Coast farmers, then packages and delivers it to more than 17,000 subscribers throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Customers can choose from various size boxes and assortments of seasonal produce—even organic. The best part? The items cost 30 to 50 percent less than they would at a grocery store.

Founders Ben Simon, Ben Chesler, and Ron Clark—who have 20-plus years of combined work experience with hunger-relief organizations—started the venture to reduce food waste and help people eat healthier and more affordably. They plan to expand to more California cities within the next year, with the long-term goal of making imperfect produce more culturally acceptable. That’s one big step toward reducing waste, and there’s nothing imperfect about that. Boxes start at $11, imperfectproduce.com.

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