Imperfect Produce

This month, a beautiful thing happened. Imperfect Produce made their way to the Twin Cities. Founded in 2015, Imperfect rescues “ugly” or unmarketable produce from local farmers and grocery stores within each respective city in which they have become established. Their model gives a chance for farmers to be compensated for EVERYTHING they grow, not just the “nice” looking stuff. Resulting from this is a reduction in food waste. The cherry on top is that Imperfect also partners with nonprofits and food banks, addressing hunger as well. We think this is a win-win-win!


When co-founders Ben Simon and Ben Chesler launched Imperfect on August 8th, 2015, they had a vision of building a more sustainable and effective food system to better our communities and the environment. Since launch in 2015, Imperfect has recovered 40 million pounds of produce. In 2018 alone, Imperfect rescued 32 million pounds of produce and is projected to rescue 50 million pounds in 2019. They have donated over 2.1 million pounds of produce to over 70 nonprofit partners and food banks. In addition to rescuing food, Imperfect has saved 1.2 billion gallons of water, and 110 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

Food waste has reached extreme levels across the globe. Inextricably linked with the global hunger epidemic, it’s on all of us to address the issue. What we choose to consume, how we consume it, and how much of it we waste has plaguing ripple effects on the environment, economics, and people.

Food Waste By The Numbers:

-40% of all the food produced in the US goes uneaten. (Feeding America)

-20 billion pounds of produce from farms is unharvested or unsold each year. (Feeding America)

-For every 1 pound of farm level surplus recovered by food banks, there are still about 25 pounds of perfectly nutritious produce going to animal feed, compost, landfill, or being left in the fields. (Feeding America)

-Feeding America received 1.47 billion pounds of produce in 2017. Of that amount, roughly 10% of it comes from farms, leaving 20 billion pounds still wasted each year on farms. (Feeding America)

-Every year, 1.4 billion tons of food—a third of global production—ends up in landfills. By some estimates, this adds up to nearly $1 trillion of annual squander and the production of about 8% of all human-caused greenhouse gases. At the same time, nearly 800 million people go hungry every day. (ReFED)

-The U.S. wastes 63 million tons of food each year, for which farms make up 16%. The main offenders are individuals, contributing to about 43% of all the waste. (ReFED)

-30% of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)

-Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food. (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)

-Globally, 30% of food waste and loss comes from grains and 40-50% of food waste and loss comes from root crops, fruits and vegetables. (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)

-Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons). (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)

We received our first box of imperfect produce this week. We chose the “small organic box” for our first order; as a customer, you have the choice each week between four box types: Organic, All Fruit, All Veggie, or Mixed Fruit and Veggie. Each type has size options of small, medium, large, or extra large, and can be delivered weekly or every other week. Check out the contents of our first small organic box:

Our box included: 5 large rainbow carrots, a package of shishito peppers, 3 apples, 4 mandarins, 7 roma tomatoes, and 3 zucchini.

Our box included: 5 large rainbow carrots, a package of shishito peppers, 3 apples, 4 mandarins, 7 roma tomatoes, and 3 zucchini.

Cost Analysis

Imperfect’s Pricing Structure gives a price range for each box type and size, depending on how one chooses to customize their box. Ours ended up costing about $16, and we opted out of customizing our first box in order to see how much food would automatically be included in it.

Source: Imperfect Produce

Source: Imperfect Produce

Our price breakdown for estimated average grocery store prices of the veggies we got:

5 large organic carrots = $2

1 package organic shishito peppers = $2

3 organic apples = $2

4 organic mandarins = $2

7 organic roma tomatoes = $4

3 organic zucchini = $2


The amount of produce in our box, compared its estimated cost to what we actually paid, seemed to be slightly higher than what we would have expected. HOWEVER! When taking into account that this organic produce was delivered to our doorstep in addition to the benefits of reducing waste and financially supporting local farmers, a couple dollars extra seems completely worth it

Source: Imperfect Produce

Source: Imperfect Produce

Imperfect’s website is very user friendly. Each week, an email reminder is sent to customers letting them know when it’s time to customize their next box. The user profile page shows when your next box is scheduled to arrive. Another impressive feature of their website is the impact indicator, which shows you statistics about the impact of your purchases:

Source: Imperfect Produce

Source: Imperfect Produce

Of course, all of this fresh produce called for a day of cooking during this week’s blizzard in Minnesota. Anika made a pan full of roast veggies, zucchini banana bread, and blistered shishito peppers with sea salt. These peppers are very mild and slightly sweet. However, it is said that about 1 out of every 12 peppers is surprisingly hot!

Blistered shishito peppers in olive oil and sea salt

Blistered shishito peppers in olive oil and sea salt

Anika’s recipe:

1 package shishito peppers

3 tbsp olive oil

A few pinches of Sea salt

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan on low-medium heat (cast iron works best but we used a regular non-stick pan)

  2. Add peppers, toss until they’re coated in oil.

  3. Continue tossing intermittently until peppers begin blistering.

  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss again.

  5. Peppers are done when blistered to your liking! (5-15 mins)

  6. Devour whole (except stem) or chop up and add to other dishes.

All in all, we give imperfect 5 stars for produce content, dedication to their mission, and all of the benefits that come from it! We are sold!

Use our code, “nativesustainability” for 50% off your first box!

Contents of the small organic box

Contents of the small organic box

Imperfect is available in 18 markets across the United States, including:

    • Austin, TX

    • Baltimore, MD

    • Bay Area, CA

    • Chicago, IL

    • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

    • Greater Sacramento Area, CA (including Davis)

    • Houston, TX

    • Indianapolis, IN

    • Los Angeles, CA

    • Milwaukee, WI

    • Montgomery County, MD

    • Northern Virginia, VA

    • Orange County, CA

    • Portland, OR

    • San Antonio, TX

    • San Diego, CA

    • Seattle, WA Metro Area (including Tacoma and Olympia)

    • Washington, D.C.

    • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN