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Changing the World with Ugly Food

UglyCarrotsBLOGChalk it up to a great idea that I saw, photographed...but never connected the dots.

We were on a destination assessment assignment in Iowa a couple summers ago when I spotted a farmer selling carrots in a totally different way (click picture to enlarge). One sign read, "Carrots: $2/bunch." The other read, "Ugly Carrots: $1/bunch."

I chuckled and asked the farmer how his strategy was working. He grinned back and said, "I always sell out of the ugly ones first." When I asked what percentage of his crop was "ugly," he replied, "about a third...and I used to throw them away."

A thousand miles away, Abhi Ramesh was learning the same thing. According to the website for his Philadelphia based firm, "Misfits Market," over $1 trillion of food is wasted each year, either getting tossed at the farm, rotting in warehouses or going unsold in stores until it's inedible. Much of this is due to "modern-day beauty standards for food." Ugly fruits, misshapen vegetables, and delicious but imperfectly-sized produce are squandered at every level. Just a quarter of this wasted food could be used to feed the entire starving population of the world.

And that was the inspiration behind Misfits...and, like my Iowa farmer, they sell at up to half off. For $19, they'll ship 10-12 pounds of imperfect fruits and vegetables to your door, enough to feed a couple for a week. A larger box for bigger families is also available for $35. They're starting slowly, rolling out the organic service geographically in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Abhi hopes New York is next.

As their slogan goes, "Healthy. Affordable. Ugly."

And, brilliant.

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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