‘Ugly’ produce is now available for delivery to students’ doorsteps with a food subscription service’s recent expansion into Austin.
Imperfect Produce is a California-based company which sources and delivers produce deemed unfit by grocery retail to subscribers to help combat food waste and increase food accessibility. The company’s Austin launch on Oct. 8 is its second Texas location, and content manager Reilly Brock said the company is working with over 30 Texas farms.
“We’re starting to build connections with more and more Texas farmers, so that’s another exciting thing about being in a new area for us,” Brock said. “(We are) meeting up with the growers and helping them find a good home for a lot of the stuff they’ve been growing that historically they might not be able to make money off of.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, 30–40 percent of food is wasted. Grocery stores contribute to that number by buying produce in a uniform size in order to package, transport and display it most efficiently, Brock said.
“The cool irony of food waste is that a lot of the stuff that counts as ugly is honestly remarkably normal looking,” Brock said. “Little blemishes, scarring and honestly size is the elephant in the room for ugly produce.”
Some students such as Blaire Hambrick and John Peter Bekker have already subscribed and received their first boxes after seeing ads on social media. Hambrick said the produce is 30 percent cheaper than what she sees at the grocery store.
“It makes my heart feel happy that I’m doing something sustainable,” said Hambrick, a communications sciences and disorders junior. “Buying from Imperfect Produce lets me know that food that otherwise would have been rotting in a field is in my kitchen and I’m going to eat it.”
Biomedical engineering sophomore Bekker said he doesn’t care what the fruit looks like as long as it is quality.
“It’s not food you would put on Instagram,” Bekker said. “I got a bunch of adorable tiny limes that taste fine if you juice them.”
The company also partnered with Lick Honest Ice Creams to create a new spiced sweet potato flavor that is available at all Austin locations from Oct. 4 to Nov. 23.
“It’s a fun way to educate people and say this produce is out there, and while it might look a little different on the shelf, it makes delicious ice cream,” Brock said.