You’ve read the statistics about food waste in America — something like 40 percent of edible food that is purchased is discarded due to spoilage or misinformation about expiration dates, amounting to 20 billion pounds every year. A third of produce never even makes it to grocery stores due to aesthetic imperfections. Enter: DC-based Misfit Juicery, a sustainability-forward startup. Their cold-pressed fruit and veggie medleys are made with up to 80 percent ugly or surplus produce, and given the current market for fresh juice, that sounds like a win-win.
A related tangent about produce rescue: My favorite new thing is the “ugly” CSA boxes from FreshDirect, and I get at least one every time I order groceries in the hope that they’ll continue offering them. I make a faux-dramatic act of lamenting the slight wrinkly sag of, say, an eggplant top (“Oh no, it’s horrible!”), then whisk it off with a knife. The result: a glorious feeling toward the salvaged 92 percent of the lovely local organic eggplant I paid 89 cents for instead of $5 in exchange for three extra seconds of knife work (or a $3 fresh juice instead of a $7 one). To be honest, their expensive not ugly CSA boxes contain plenty of ugly stuff, too — I don’t notice a huge difference. And unless I were serving it whole and raw on a platter, which would never happen because it’s an eggplant/ginger root/head of romaine/bunch of beets, nobody would be any the wiser.
We’ve become so accustomed to cosmetic flawlessness that a dent, scratch, divot, lump (which really, when you think about it, is just extra food) or the slightest evidence of decay renders the subject at hand inedible, as though its nutritional potential was nonexistent. But making a concerted effort to rescue this kind of produce sends a direct message to those selling it for less: “Keep doing this.” Small companies like Misfit Juicery and large ones like FreshDirect are leading the way in mainstreaming this practice. Let’s raise a nice affordable glass of carrot-beet-apple to them.