Anyone who’s gardened or tried to grow their own food will admit that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to Mother Nature - especially fruits and veggies. And hey, we think that’s awesome! That said, a lot of us are picky when choosing our produce and it’s the less-than-perfect-looking crops that often get left behind. Here at Mother Raw we love all plants regardless of shape or size, so today we’re shining a light on some awesome companies that are making use of imperfect produce.
In the last few years, “ugly” produce has come into the spotlight as consumers become more aware of the issues around food waste and its impact on the environment. Up to 40% of fruit and vegetable waste can be attributed to cosmetic standards. Having personally spent 4 months last year sorting and packing fruit while I was living in Australia, I can tell you firsthand that these standards around factors like shape, marks, and colour can be very strict. Some of the less attractive fruits and veggies are packaged at a discount or sent to other companies to be made into products such as juices, soups, or jams, but there are now more companies than ever dedicated to making use of these pieces of produce.
In the US, there are several food subscription boxes that will deliver these unique-looking fruits and veggies right to your door. As an added bonus, this produce tends to be less expensive than its more traditionally “beautiful” counterparts. We love this idea because it tastes just as delicious, so you can chop up your veggies to use with a Mother Raw dressing or dip and never even know the difference. Now that’s a RAWesome way to put good on good! Imperfect Foods is on a mission to deliver groceries to most of the United States for up to 30% less than national supermarket chains while reducing food waste. Misfits Market creates organic subscription boxes for up to 40% less than grocery store prices by using organic produce that stores and farms can’t usually sell.
In Canada, these produce boxes have not yet reached a large national scale but there are some great local services. In the London, Ontario area, FoodFund helps reduce waste by sourcing imperfect produce from local farmers. In Montreal, Second Life offers a zero-waste delivery service that’s saved over 2 million pounds of ugly produce since 2016.
There are also some innovative products that have been inspired by imperfect produce and a passion for sustainability. Wtrmln Wtr came to life in 2013 after its co-founders searched for a use for watermelons that were delicious, but ultimately discarded because of blemishes that made them unsellable. They were able to use these melons and support farmers by introducing a hydrating electrolyte beverage that’s taken the media by storm (oh, and garnered an investment from the one and only Beyonce).
In the snack food world, Spudsy created vegan sweet potato puffs from sweet potatoes that would’ve previously ended up in landfills due to factors like their size, shape, and colour. They’re on track to save 1 million imperfect sweet potatoes by 2021 and these spud-saving snacks come in five different flavours.
We love that these companies are making use of fruits and veggies that were once overlooked to help work towards a more sustainable future. As plant lovers ourselves, we’re totally on board with getting rid of the stigma against ‘ugly’ produce!
Written By: Victoria Ehgoetz