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Posts Tagged ‘imperfections’

produce_carrot

Photo: Brett Forsyth, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Much of US food is wasted because of aesthetics, but more people are realizing that twisty carrots are as good as ordinary carrots — “perfect imperfections.”

I like how the radio show Living on Earth manages to find the environmental angle for whatever is in the news.

A recent episode addressed how “social distancing and staying at home is whetting consumers’ appetite for grocery delivery” and how some companies that deliver “aim not only for convenience but for reducing food waste.” Host Steve Curwood introduces Bobby Bascomb’s interview with Abhi Ramesh, CEO of Misfits Market.

“STEVE CURWOOD: Companies including Hungry Harvest, Imperfect Produce, and Misfits Market work with farmers to collect produce that isn’t quite good enough for supermarket shelves but is still perfectly edible. They’ll pack them up and deliver weekly straight to your door. …

“BOBBY BASCOMB: Please explain your business model to us. …

“ABHI RAMESH: We essentially rescue a lot of different types of products that would otherwise go to waste in our food system. And we ship it directly to households. And the idea is that you can save money and also help combat the global food waste problem. …

“We make it a priority of ours to work with non-commercial farms. … We figure out what is consumable for human consumption, and we repurpose it and ship it directly to people.

“BASCOMB: And why would it otherwise be going to waste?

“RAMESH: [We see] three big buckets. The first one is an aesthetic reason. … The second big bucket is size constraints. So we’ll have products that are either too small or too large to sort of fit into the size restrictions that regular buyers would want. So we see some of that. And the third bucket, which I think a lot of people don’t necessarily think about, is simply excess. So you know, nature operates in interesting ways and isn’t necessarily always predictable. And buying patterns from large supermarkets and grocery chains are also not super, super in line with what growers are producing. So the food system produces a lot of excesses accidentally, and we’re able to purchase that and sell it to our subscribers at a big discount.

“BASCOMB: And where would these imperfect and excess fruit and vegetables go if not for services like yours? …

“RAMESH: If a grower is not able to sell stuff, they’ll either toss it or they’ll end up leaving it in the ground. So we, a lot of times we’ll see farms that choose not to harvest something that they’ve grown just because they think there’s not a market for it. …

“BASCOMB: Surely it could end up in a food pantry or something like that, though? …

“RAMESH: There’s a very, very, very small number of them that actually have the infrastructure today to go and ship items consistently to food banks and food pantries. … At Misfits Market, we sort of see ourselves as building that kind of pipeline and that infrastructure where it didn’t exist already. So we’re aggregating food from a lot of different growers. We sell what we can to folks that want to save food, want to eat more affordably. And then we actually donate a pretty large chunk of it to food banks and food pantries. …

“BASCOMB: Now, how do you know that the produce in a Misfits Market box would actually have gone to waste? I mean, an ugly carrot, for example, can still be shredded, or a bruised tomato can be made into sauce or something, right? …

“RAMESH: Yeah. So you know, in theory, [but] for every one grower that has access to, you know, a carrot shredder, there are twenty other carrot growers that do not. …

BASCOMB: Looking down the road, what do you see for the future of Misfits Market and this idea of avoiding food waste more generally? …

“Our goal over the next couple of years is to really grow Misfits Market to be a national brand that sort of embodies a lot of things we want to embody around the affordability of food and sustainability and food waste. … And also in the process, educate households and consumers on what they can do on their end to sort of tackle that food waste problem.

More at Living on Earth, here.

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