Lettuce celebrate

New delivery service helps Austin save a pretty penny by buying ugly produce

New service helps Austin save a pretty penny by buying ugly produce

Imperfect Produce SA
Imperfect Produce proves that fruits and vegetables don't have to be flawless to taste great. Imperfect Produce/ Facebook

Want to do right by the environment and save a few bucks while you are at it? Then consider purchasing less-than-perfect produce. At least that’s the philosophy behind Imperfect Produce, a California-based company trying fight food waste by bringing its “ugly” fruit and vegetable delivery service to Austin. According to a press release, Imperfect Produce will begin servicing the Capital City on October 8.

Founded by Ben Simon and Ben Chesler, the company was started as an offshoot of Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit Simon founded as a student at the University of Maryland to help prevent campus food waste. The two Bens eventually realized they could make the greatest impact by sourcing cosmetically flawed produce from farmers and selling it to directly to customers.

The company says billions of pounds of produce are rejected every year from grocery stores who demand uniform and unblemished products. Since its founding in 2015, Imperfect has helped reduce that number by delivering 30 million pounds of popular items like carrots, broccoli, and apples that might have otherwise been left to rot.

Since there is no middleman, the company is able to offer the produce at 30 to 50 percent less than the normal grocery store price. The website allows users to customize the shipments according to their needs, with several available box sizes and weekly or bi-weekly shipments with prices that range from $12-$18 dollars per delivery. Unlike most community-supported agriculture boxes, customers are also allowed to choose from the available selections — a boon to families with picky eaters.

The service helps farmers, too. Since they can’t control nature, Imperfect allows them to sell more of their harvest after stores like H-E-B snag the prettiest crops.

Initially, the delivery area for the service will be focused on neighborhoods in Central Austin, but additional coverage areas will be rolled out after the initial launch. Those interested can enter their ZIP code on the sign-up page to check availability.

Still need convincing? Imperfect is inviting Austinites to try out the service at an even cheaper rate. Using code ATX5, newcomers will receive $5 off their first delivery.

And test the product in-person at Lick Honest Ice Creams. The Austin-based ice creamery is partnering with Imperfect on a limited-edition spiced sweet potato pie ice cream flavor using Imperfect sweet potatoes, house made vanilla marshmallows, and chunks of molasses cookie made from scratch. The sweet treat will be available at all Lick locations from October 4 through November 23.