Beauty of Imperfection

By Liz Harroun – November 30, 2018


Sometimes individual sustainability initiatives can seem daunting. We all want to leave the world better than how we came into it, but where to start? From starting a compost bin to bike commuting to ditching plastic, the options can seem endless. 

Luckily, California-based Imperfect Produce is now available to Austinites, and are environmental stewardship effortless. In fact, you’ll likely save time and money by signing up for a subscription box because it means less grocery shopping for you. 

The beginnings of Imperfect Produce go back to when CEO Ben Simon realized how much food was going to waste in the cafeteria while attending the University of Maryland. He responded by founding a nonprofit called the Food Recovery Network (FRN) that prevents waste on college campuses. Since then, the FRN has expanded to 180 schools around the nation. While working with the FRN, Simon met Imperfect Produce co-founder Ben Chesler. Simon and Chesler realized they could make a bigger impact by sourcing directly from the farms and delivering it straight to customers’ residences. Together, they founded Imperfect Produce in 2015 with the vision of “showing the world the beauty of imperfection.” 

Food waste is both one of the worst and most solvable environmental problems we face today. Twenty percent of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. never leave the farm simply because they look different. This means perfectly healthy and delicious produce ends up being left to rot in the field, or worse — trucked to a landfill instead of to your kitchen.

Imperfect Produce decided that this was unacceptable and began buying produce directly from farms that would otherwise go to waste because supermarkets weren’t buying it. The “ugly” produce is delivered straight to people’s doors for 30 percent less than grocery prices.

Supporting this cause is simple and convenient. You sign up and customize your weekly box on their website and your it’s delivered straight to your home. Since Imperfect Produce’s goal is to avoid food waste, they want to make sure you’re getting only fruit and veggies you really want. That means you can cater your box to your preferences and needs based on that week’s seasonal menu. 

It’s a great way to mix up the fruits and veggies that you always pick up at the store. Depending on how much you customize, you’ll get a variety of produce — maybe even some you’ve never tried before. 

To minimize carbon footprint, produce delivery days are assigned based on your neighborhood. You can leave detailed directions for the driver so it’s left in a safe place if you’re not home. Instructions for storage are printed on the box, so there is no extra paper used. 



One in five pieces of produce gets rejected from grocery stores for a variety of reasons including size, asymmetry, surplus, and marks on the skin or peel. However, even though it’s deemed as aesthetically imperfect, it’s perfectly good to eat. Many people can’t even tell why the fruits and veggies they received were rejected by grocery stores. And some of it’s even more beautiful than the “perfect” stuff. 

While the list of farms they source from changes every day, Imperfect Produce stays true to its mission — sourcing the highest quality produce that positively impacts the planet and the health of customers. It sources locally when possible with the ultimate goal to retrieve the most waste. With intentional transparency, it lists where each item was sourced so that you’ll always know. 

You can choose an all-organic box or opt for the cheaper conventional. All fruits and vegetables are inspected before being sent out to customers, and are kept fresh so they arrive to your door that way. If you ever receive produce that’s bruised, damaged, broken, or moldy — it’s always made right. While the company is all about acceptance of imperfect appearance, it promises flawless quality and customer service. 

Imperfect Produce gives you access to discounted produce, delivered to your door while also helping build a more sustainable and effective food system. Your subscription helps ensure hard-working farmers are paid for their full harvest, improves access to healthy food and makes it easy to get your fruits and vegetables in.  



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