While Republicans failed to name helping the environment as one of its top concerns during the Party’s Convention in Cleveland last week, eliminating food waste is still a priority for the city, particularly at the Forest City Weingart Produce Company.
The produce distributor’s President, Andy Weingart, and his wife, Ashley, said that they used to discard perfectly edible produce because grocery stores have such high cosmetic standards for the fruits and vegetables they sell. So the couple launched the Perfectly Imperfect initiative in May to give people in the Cleveland area the opportunity to buy ugly produce at affordable prices.
“There’s a certain standard that a lot of chain grocery stores have for the product that comes through their doors,” Weingart said. “So, some of the items that we’re including in our imperfect box wouldn’t qualify to meet their standards, which is why we’re choosing them to put in this box.”
Shoppers can sign up to have a box of aesthetically imperfect seasonal produce delivered to their homes weekly or biweekly. The boxes are $15 or $25 apiece, depending on the size. It’s also possible to donate a box of produce to a local family in need.
The initiative helps curb the 1.3 billion tons of food waste produced annually and the billions of pounds of produce that grocery stores discard simply because of aesthetic standards.
“We started looking at these items that didn’t meet the specs of the primary end user, and thought, ‘OK, who can use these?,’” Weingart said. “And Ashley was smart enough to come up with this idea and said, ‘You know, there is a need for this.’”
Sorting through produce to identify what can be distributed through the Perfectly Imperfect initiative takes extra work, but Weingart said it’s worth it to help cut back on food waste.
“There’s someone, somewhere, that wants a tomato that looks like it has a nose on it, or an eggplant that looks like it’s got an ear poking out of it,” he said.
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