REVIEW: Imperfect Produce Box (Spoiler: It’s Perfect)
Produce is gorgeous to me. I’m a sucker for those medium-soft heirloom tomatoes, round juicy apples, rainbow colored carrots — it’s like beautiful art. As Chef Amanda Cohen puts it, vegetables are “candy from the earth.” They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and I am unabashedly supportive of that.
Unfortunately, most grocery stores don’t see vegetables the way I do. Many cosmetically challenged veggies get sent straight to the landfill or don’t even make it off the farm because markets refuse to stock them.
Wasted produce is heartbreaking.
Half of American produce is thrown away because of a “cult of perfection” that is wreaking havoc to the environment and deepening hunger and poverty. You know what I have to say to that?! FORGET PERFECTION. It’s the enemy of the good, and this case, it’s the enemy of the BEAUTIFUL! I mean, look at this bounty:
This box of goodness came from Imperfect Produce
… a company fighting food waste by delivering boxes of rejected vegetables and fruit at half the price. I am so supportive of them (they aren’t paying me, by the way…. yet!). While I love and support CSA’s, the food rescue mission and the price point of Imperfect Produce make it really compelling for me. They not only sell beautifully ugly produce sourced directly from farms, but the total price is 30-50% less than store prices and gets delivered to my door. So I always know I’ll have fresh seasonal veggies and fruit in my kitchen that I know is farm fresh and costs me next to NOTHING.
For my two-person household, we get a medium sized box every other week for about $23 a pop. The produce comes in a simple, recyclable cardboard box every other Monday at the same time. Last week, I got the following goodies:
The box is a pretty mixed bag, and I usually end up customizing the box to make sure I have a variety of colors and textures. I always get 2 different greens (one for my smoothies, another for salads), 2 veggies to roast in the oven (butternut squash and beets have been my strong game lately), and some spuds and fruits. The grapefruit last week was the juiciest, sweetest fruit we had ever eaten. For multiple nights in a row, it was our dessert after dinner.
Here are the top 5 reasons I’m sold on this:
I either buy the same exact veggies at the market week after week, or go through an experimental streak and get annoyed there isn’t enough veggie diversity at the store. With Imperfect Produce, I’m encouraged to get creative and eat a more diverse plate of vegetables. They are all so fresh and beautiful to me.
For 12 pounds of produce, it’s a steal. I assembled the same order of organic produce using Instacart for Whole Foods and Mariano’s in Chicago. The order at Whole Foods came to $35 and the order at Mariano’s came to $28. Imperfect Produce also offers discounted rates to those that qualify for food stamp benefits. As I said earlier, a medium-sized box every other week has been perfect for a household of two, and spending no more than $60 on organic produce every month is pretty impressive.
Not having to haul my loot of produce for the week on the bus is reason alone to stick with Imperfect Produce. There are a lot of food delivery services out there, but very few are delivering you convenience while also providing quality vegetables that will last you weeks. My box usually lasts me 8-10 meals for those 2 weeks until I get my next box. On top of the produce box, I’m only buying imperishables and snacks at the store, and I usually stock up on my grains and legumes to last me an entire month. The time I spend wondering if I have enough food in the kitchen has drastically reduced.
I’m pretty impressed with the ordering process and web interface. The company does a great job laying out all the options for boxes. You can pick from four different sized boxes — small, medium, large, extra large — and four types of produce (organic; mixed; all fruit; all veggie). Prices are based on the number of pounds that vary very slightly week to week. You also have the option of getting your box weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Having choices and getting to customize your order online makes it pretty easy to meal plan and anticipate the right amount of food.
Imperfect Produce offers customers major discounts on local produce while creating a new revenue channel for farmers, who would have normally factored these items as a negative return. Customers and farmers get a deal, and both parties can feel accomplished in reducing the risk of food waste.
Currently, Imperfect Produce delivers to the entire Bay Area; Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; Portland, OR Metro Area; Seattle, WA Metro Area (includes Tacoma); and Chicago, IL Metro Area. Though it might not be for everyone, I’m happy to contribute to the success of Imperfect Produce and the fight to make beautiful meals out of ugly vegetables.
If you’re interested in trying it, use my code and get $10 off your first box!
Do you have a subscription produce box? Would you recommend it, why or why not? Let me know in the comments below! Until next time…