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The Ugly Doll of Produce 

Giving produce another opportunity — good doesn’t have to be pretty 

By Elizabeth Sehon 

Fruits and veggies must undergo quite a bit of scrutiny before they land on grocery store aisles. 

And for good reason: Produce is graded by the USDA to meet certain standards to keep consumers safe, healthy and free of bacteria that could cause illnesses. However, these fruits and veggies must also pass a beauty standard, and many fruits that are still nutritious and safe to digest get thrown out to pasture. 

But one company, California-based Imperfect Foods, found a way to upcycle discarded produce to help eliminate the never-ending battle of food waste — and even operate a local packaging facility to ship food quicker to DFW residents. 

Since the company was founded in 2015, the Imperfect community has saved more than 139 million pounds of food from a lesser outcome since opening its doors. According to the company’s website, “saved from a lesser outcome” simply means that by buying its food, the company has prevented an outcome that would have been worse for the environment and/ or the people that grew it – such as going to a processor or juicer, ending up as animal feed, being composted, left in the field, or getting sent to landfill. 

This impact has conserved 3.83 billion gallons of water and more than 35,000 tons of CO2e, its website claims. 

The company is an online grocer that works directly with more than 350 U.S. farmers and nearly 1,200 producers to salvage and redistribute robust and healthy produce, and it can be delivered right to your doorstep, Clare Zenczak-Murray, a representative for Imperfect Foods, says. 

Fort Worth resident and veggie lover, Kathryn Egger, understands the mission behind the environmentally conscious company to salvage foods and has even considered signing up herself for its services. Kathryn says that many people don’t want to purchase disfigured produce because “it doesn’t look pretty on their plates.” 

In addition to helping protect the environment and eliminate waste, Imperfect Foods is also budget friendly. 

For local residents, ordering customized groceries online with delivery is less expensive than a trip to a local grocery store, Clare says. 

“My meals aren’t going to be photographed and put in a magazine,” Kathryn says. “At the end of the day, you’re going to chew it up and eat it, anyway.” 

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