Thursday, August 17, 2017

New! Imperfect Produce in the Portland Area Delivers Fruits and Veggies that are Fresh and Inexpensive (Coupon Code)

What's all the buzz about Imperfect Produce? I was about to find out. It was late afternoon and I was just getting ready to look in my refrigerator and see what was there to pair with my leftover chicken. There’s always lettuce and sometimes a stray carrot or two. And I have a tomato plant on the deck. So I wouldn’t be going hungry… just getting ready for a rather boring meal.

And then the doorbell rang. A young guy with an “Imperfect Produce” t-shirt on, holding a big cardboard box and smiling, greeted me… “I have your Imperfect Produce delivery!” Dinner problem solved! We chatted a bit (he was new to the Portland area) and I took the box to the kitchen.

Inside was kale, parsely, squash, cherry tomatos, a small cabbage, beets and more. My boring dinner problem was solved. In fact, I was now faced with a challenge… how to creatively use these veggies for my dinner.

Oh yes, there were five lucious large plums too. I took one to have as a snack while I thought about dinner.

A Discount Code for Your Box of Imperfect Produce
After you read through this information, you’ll probably want to try a box too. They deliver to the Portland area and across the river to the Vancouver area too. The promo code (HELLOPDX) is good for 50% off a first box for all new customers.

What is Imperfect Anyway?
Imperfect is a produce delivery company that sources ugly produce straight from farms and delivers it to your door for 30-50% less than grocery store prices. (That’s their words. I didn’t find my produce ugly, at least in the “review box.”)

From the Perfect Produce company’s FAQ:

1 in 5 fruits and veggies grown in the U.S. don't meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores, usually causing them to go to waste. Imperfect works directly with farmers to find a home for this "ugly" produce, through a produce delivery subscription in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County and Portland, Oregon. Since our produce looks a little funny, our prices are 30-50% less than grocery stores. Customers save money, eat healthier, support farmers, and fight food waste. Our customers keep over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date we have kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste.

What are the advantages of your service?
  1. Price- Imperfect offers fresh produce to consumers at a rate 30-50% cheaper than what consumers can buy in the grocery store.
  2. Environmental Impact- We help close the loop on food waste by keeping over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date we have kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste. Not wasting this food ends up saving wasted water, fossil fuels, fertilizer, labor, and land as well!
  3. Convenience- We make eating fresh, healthy, and sustainable produce easy by delivering boxes of fruits and vegetables right to people’s doors.
  4. Economic Impact- Imperfect supports farmers economically by helping them sell more of their produce.
  5. Social Impact- By supporting Imperfect you are supporting the fight to end food waste and hunger. We are dedicated to helping close the loop on this important social and environmental issue. We proudly partner with community food banks to help fight to end hunger. We donate thousands of pounds of produce every week to non profit organizations.
How much does a box cost?
The exact cost of a box depends on what is going in it that week and how the customer chooses to customize the box. A small box costs around $12 and a large box costs around $18. The organic boxes are slightly more expensive than the conventional boxes, however we still offer organic produce at a significant discount to our customers. 

What makes the produce “ugly?”
The reality is that 1 in 5 produce items does not meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores. Because of its appearance they cannot be sold. The industry term for these items is seconds. Examples of “ugly” include crooked carrots, small squash, or an orange with scarring or discoloration. A large amount of produce goes to waste just because of its size, fruits and veggies that are too big or too small.

Examples of produce that we do NOT source are: produce that grocery stores have passed on for quality reasons, moldy produce, bruised produce, old produce, or wilting produce.

We also source surplus produce. When a farm has a larger than expected crop of a fruit or vegetable there may not be grocery store demand to meet the excess supply. Imperfect works directly with these farmers to ensure that their surplus does not go to waste.

Aren’t people less likely to want to buy ugly produce?
People are conditioned to see uniform, perfect-looking produce in the grocery store but once they realize how much food is needlessly wasted every year because of minor cosmetic quirks they open their minds pretty quickly. Honestly the most common feedback we get from customers about the appearance of our produce is "hey! This isn't even ugly at all!" 

Why do we have these standards for grocery store produce?
It’s important to remember that these standards didn’t appear overnight. If you looked at a produce market 100 years ago it would look very different than the supermarkets of today. What happened was overtime, with farms growing more and more food and produce wholesalers getting more and more competitive, grocery stores could become picky about what they would and wouldn’t buy. There’s a saying in the produce world: “pile it high and watch it fly.” Stores love produce that can stack in uniform, and physically perfect display cases. This means when they will always prefer buy fruits and veggies that are all the same size and have perfectly flawless skins and bright colors. While not all produce actually looks like this, we are growing so much food that stores can be super-selective about what they will and won’t buy. Over time, this perfection became “normal” as it was all that supermarket shoppers ever saw. The sad consequence of all of this is that tons of food ends up getting wasted in the quest for perfection.

What makes it so affordable?
We are able to offer such affordable prices because we only work with “ugly” produce that traditional produce companies don’t source. This produce currently goes to waste on farms because of minor cosmetic imperfections, such as being the wrong shape, size, or color.  By sourcing this produce straight from farmers, we can pass on the savings to consumers.  

Are you a CSA box service?
While we deliver a weekly/biweekly box like a CSA would, there are some differences between Imperfect and a traditional CSA. CSA’s source from one farm/area and are not focused on wonky/”ugly” produce. We source from a wide range of farms and focus only on “ugly”/wonky/excess produce. Fighting food waste is our number one goal and so we source a wide range of produce from a wide range of regions to make this happen.

How much produce do you keep from going to waste?
We keep over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week!

What About the Boxes Here in the Portland/Vancouver Area?
Imperfect tries to source all their fruits and vegetables from regional farmers and uses a local delivery model with different distribution hubs. They deliver their boxes as quickly as possible from farm to doorstep. Their new warehouse is located within the Portland metro area for easier distribution and quality control. Imperfect offers a variety of boxes for singles and families, and each box can be customized with just the right mix of fruits and veggies – customers chose each item that arrives in their box each week. Portland metro residents can sign up for the new delivery service and remember that my readers can use the code: (HELLOPDX) is good for 50% off a first box.

Cooking with Imperfect Produce
As I put together my veggie sauté that night, I realized that everything was crisp and fresh. I put several things together as a side for my piece of chicken and it was delicious. 

The next night I used a crisp green pepper in my salad and today…. I think I’ll make cole slaw from my little cabbage. This turned out to be fun.

Here’s More Information on Imperfect Produce:

Social: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @ImperfectProduce

Note: These are all my iPhone photos from that first Imperfect Produce food box.

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