Now SAVE $30.00 OFF Your First Week! Use promo code REAL30 at checkout.

Imperfect Produce: A Rescue Mission to Combat Food Waste

I have tried many different types of tomatoes: green, heirloom, cherry, plum. I have eaten them plain, salted, and drizzled with balsamic. But I had never heard of a nosey tomato—until I encountered Imperfect Produce, that is.

Reilly Brock, who is the content manager at this California-based startup, assures me that what I am calling “nosey tomatoes”—tomatoes with a long, nose-like appendage growing off their side (with what, on some, looks possibly like two nostrils flared angrily)—taste exactly the same as their better-looking counterparts.

But what is different about these tomatoes, as well as the other fruits and vegetables with strange protuberances, small statures, and misshapen bodies that comprise Imperfect Produce’s weekly deliveries to subscribers, is that most grocery stores and other retail channels won’t take them.

“One in five fruits and veggies aren’t making it off of farms, because of superficial quirks—a carrot that’s a little crooked, an eggplant that’s asymmetrical, an apple that’s a bit too small or too large,” says Brock. “Imperfect Produce was founded with the goal of finding these items a home.”

Photography courtesy of Imperfect Produce.

A malformed root vegetable from Imperfect Produce
Above: “Ugly” root vegetables are one of many types of produce a subscriber might find in his or her weekly box delivery. Imperfect Produce partners with local farmers to find a home for fruit and vegetables that are too small, or have other cosmetic issues that prevent the items from meeting the specs of a grocery store.

Imperfect Produce was founded in 2015 to fight food waste through a subscription produce box delivery, sourced directly from local farmers. Co-founders Ben Chesler, Ron Clark, and Ben Simon joined forces to deliver “ugly” produce—which would otherwise go to waste—to consumers in California.

“Historically, farmers have had to...

People are talking