There’s a new way to get organic produce and goods beyond your local grocery store, greenmarket or CSA. Imperfect Foods is a countrywide grocery delivery service aimed at reducing food waste and saving shoppers time and money. The four-year-old startup specializes in, yes, "imperfect" items like scarred almonds, off-sized eggs and misshapen produce. With the San Francisco-based company launching its service in New York City this week, we spoke to Imperfect Foods’ content manager Reilly Brock.
Why are you excited to launch in the city?
New York is the epicenter of food and culture — and there are so many like-minded New Yorkers looking to improve our nation’s impact on the environment. Being in this community, we can take a sizable bite out of food waste. We’re already in 30 metro markets across the country, so it was time.
How customizable are orders?
Customers can fully customize their orders, choosing from 50 to 60 produce items and nearly 200 shelf-stable items that change each week based on seasonality and availability. Boxes can include as many items as customers want each week.
Are there any other green initiatives?
We use minimal plastic, as well as compostable, recyclable cardboard boxes to reduce environmental impact. In lieu of printed cards, we use our social channels for recipes and cooking tips and have a box reuse program for clean, label-free, broken-down boxes that are donated to food bank partners.
Do you work with local farms and businesses?
At this time, we’re sourcing fruits and vegetables from Dandrea in Vineland, New Jersey, and Nardelli Lake View Farm in Cedarville, New Jersey. We’re also featuring a slew of locally-made items, such as Brooklyn Delhi tikka masala, Rise Brewing Co. nitro cold brew, Michel et Augustin dark chocolate sea salt cookies and Sir Kensington’s condiments.
How else are you becoming involved in the community?
We’ve collaborated with OddFellows Ice Cream to shed light on food waste. They’ve created an olive oil and roasted plum flavor using cosmetically damage plums available [now]. We’ve also partnered with Edible Schoolyard NYC to aid their efforts.
More grocery renegades
From beautifully flawed fruits to high-tech vertical farming, these forward-thinking companies are changing the way we look at grocery shopping.
There are tons of reasons produce might not make it to a supermarket aisle, ranging from a few bumps to not enough product to meet mass-market demands. Misfits Market is a produce delivery service that turns “ugly” fruits and vegetables into savings for its customers. Considering most fresh ingredients end up chopped, diced and sliced on your cutting board anyway, it’s a pretty sweet concept.
Indoor, vertical farming has become a hot sustainability topic. Unlike traditional farms, indoor ones can sidestep challenges presented by climate change and seasonal weather patterns, while minimizing resources and taking up less space. They also don’t have to rely on chemical pesticides and can utilize technology and analytics to harvest vegetables at the optimal time for flavor. The three-year-old modern farming startup Bowery, which specializes in leafy greens grown nearby, offers local delivery through Peapod, Amazon Fresh and Jet.