If you love both convenience and staying on a budget, there is nothing like having groceries delivered to your door. You can know the price ahead of time, choose healthy options, and fight the temptation of splurging, all from the comfort of your own home. “Ugly produce” boxes have grown in popularity over recent years due to the above benefits, and we’re here to explore which options are the best. Today’s battle: Misfits Market vs. Imperfect Foods.
What is ugly produce?
Food waste is a huge problem in Western culture, and much of it occurs before it ever reaches the consumer’s home. Grocery stores often throw away produce before setting it out to sell because it is oddly sized, misshapen, or just plain ugly. In fact, up to 40% of perfectly good food is thrown away because they don’t have the cosmetic appearance that we’re used to at big box grocery stores. As a result, our already packed landfills are getting piled up with food. This means even more methane emissions that are already wreaking havoc on our planet.
The baby carrot was actually invented by California carrot farmer Mike Yurosek as a result of ugly produce. Yurosek was told in the 1980s that his carrots weren’t the ideal shape or size to be sold at grocery stores. As a result, he reshaped them with an industrial bean cutter to give them a uniform shape.
As this anecdote proves, people have lots of misconceptions about this misshapen food. But in reality, it’s just as nutritious (and tasty) as its prettier competitors. Today, people are working to solve this problem by shining a spotlight on this issue. One of these solutions is the production of ugly product subscription boxes.
They’re helping to educate Americans and raise awareness that small blemishes don’t always affect quality or freshness. As a result, we can shed the public stereotype and misconception that an salvaged fruit isn’t necessarily a rotten one. After all, when you go apple picking, the fruit you leave with isn’t necessarily the roundest or shiniest option – but it is just as delicious.
Why ugly produce boxes?
The idea behind ugly produce boxes is that the customer can choose to spend less money on less conventional produce. After all, the food isn’t rotten or spoiled; it simply failed to meet the general public’s beauty standards. Individuals can have cheaper produce delivered straight to their door for a flat-rate cost. These boxes are both helping to reduce food waste in the United States, but offer different pros and cons based on your preferences.
Each service varies in price, presentation, and food options. Let’s take a look at two popular options, Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods, and see how they hold up against one another.
What is Misfits Market?
Misfits Market is one of the biggest players trying to stop food waste. It sells products that other grocery stores won’t accept and is based out of Philadelphia. The majority of their foods are certified organic and non-GMO, sourced from hand-picked farms across the US. They also offer products outside the US, like citrus and avocados, to bring customers more variety. While their selection isn’t as large as other companies, they focus on quality and eco-friendly packaging. They use compostable bags, and boxes are made from recycled materials. When warm weather comes around, they use nontoxic ice packs.
What is Imperfect Foods?
Founded several years ago in San Francisco, Imperfect Foods is a grocery delivery service selling flawed fruits and veggies. In fact, this company was one of the first players in the ugly produce market. They’re known for their large selection, which is more substantial than what’s offered at Misfits Market. Thanks to their sustainable partnerships with high-profile brands, this includes seafood, meat, dairy, and meat alternatives, offering a comprehensive option for you to stock up on all your groceries. Still, not all of their food is organic. Still, produce is clearly labelled, and most of its products are sourced from California.
Selection and Shipping Procedures
The first thing to examine is how each box’s selection and shipping process works. From store to door, what goes down? While the companies offer similar services, there are a few key differences that should be noted.
To begin your Misfits Market membership, simply check your zip code to make sure they deliver in your area, and choose your shipping frequency (weekly or biweekly). The Misfits Market website offers a wide selection of organic produce and pantry items that you can use to customize your box. A key difference in both subscription boxes, is that Misfits Market is fully customizable.
You must place an order of at least $30, you will receive a box full of seasonal produce that was just a little too weird for the grocery store, along with any pantry staples you added to your order. This service encourages you to eat more vegetables and fruit as well as guidance if you’re looking to experiment with new food items.
Food ships with protective sleeves and multiple forms of insulation in a recyclable box, so your produce remains intact throughout the shopping process. Buyers love that even after being in transit for multiple days, ice packs and meats are still fully frozen. This is thanks to the thoughtful insulation.
Some items you can buy
- Deli items
- Curated fish and meat products
- Pantry and bakery staples
- Pet and household products
An Imperfect Foods subscription begins with a quiz dedicated to finding out your cooking and eating habits. Orders are automatically set to every week unless you opt to manually skip one. As for the contents of the box, the company builds a custom box for you based on your quiz answers. During a short window of time, you can evaluate the items in the custom box and switch things out before it is shipped to you.
Some items you can buy:
- Seasonal and organic/conventional produce
- Poultry, fish, and beef
- Pantry staples
- Household essentials
- Plant-based items
Cost, Quality, and Quantity
Of course, with every food-related service comes the question of cost versus value. How much do these services cost, and do they really save you money?
Imperfect Foods begins with a base “produce pack” ($22) that costs more depending on what you add to your cart during your shopping window. In addition, to produce, you can purchase dairy packs, snack packs, etc., with the price adjusting accordingly. Thankfully, you can check out the total cost before confirming your shipment. Shipping fees cost anywhere from $5-$10 per box. The delivery cost will depend on where you are located.
Due to the large range of items and high-quality brands they partner with, some items can be expensive, putting this service out of budget for many shoppers. At the same time, items are priced individually, letting you control the price of your order with ease.
Misfits Market works differently, giving you the option to choose everything that goes into your box starting with a base of $30. They claim that members save up to 40% on shopping when compared to grocery store prices. Like Imperfect Foods, you can add extra non-produce items and see a change in the price. The shipping fee for Misfits Market is a flat rate of $5.50.
As a whole, both companies offer quality produce; however, Misfits Market takes more of a healthy approach to its snacks, fruits, and vegetables. Everything is organic and intended to be good for your body as well as your budget…and the planet! It is worth noting that their facilities handle common allergens, so if you or a loved one suffers from severe food allergies, that’s something to keep in mind.
Returns and customer service
As always, service and accountability are important factors to pay attention to when trying a new grocery subscription box. Misfits Market claims that if items arrive damaged, you have the ability to request a full refund. If approved (photo documentation may be asked of you, money should be back in your account within five days.
Imperfect Foods, on the other hand, promises to make it up to you if they mess up, and has online resources for a help center and customer care. They don’t seem to have as transparent a policy as their competitor but do state that they’ll follow up over email ASAP.
Misfits Market vs. Imperfect Foods: Which is Better?
Both companies offer similar products using similar methods. Each box is delivered in a specially cooled, eco-friendly, recyclable box. The client is alerted of delivery ahead of time so that the food doesn’t sit out on the porch for too long. Both services are affordable and efficient. However, as far as health and personalization go, Misfits Market takes the edge. Whether you’re a vegan or a pescatarian, there’s something for every diet. They even allow you to opt for low-carb items only if you’re on a ketogenic diet.
While Imperfect Foods does have an impressive variety and lets you check everything off your grocery list, Misfits Market allows more of a flexible experience with a better focus on ingredient quality and reducing food waste. After all, it’s important to note that your cart will be pre-filled with products that the service has chosen based on your preferences, so if you forget to fully customize, the box will only include their suggestions. If you are a picky eater or have one that lives in your household, this is important to note.
Because Misfits Market allows you to fully customize your box from the get-go (and skips your order if you don’t log on to customize it), you can ensure that you receive exactly what you want. After all, the whole purpose of an ugly produce box is to cut down on food waste; if you constantly receive items that you don’t use, it defeats the purpose of the service.
Shoppers also find that the overall level of customer service is more impressive at Misfits Market than their competitor.
Additionally, organic fruits and vegetables help you create a happier, healthier lifestyle. Even if you don’t end up saving extra bucks, you get trustworthy, quality produce delivered straight to your home without the legwork. It’s also a serious timesaver that eliminates the hassle of traveling to the grocery store.
When your ugly produce is going to be turned into guacamole, jam or salsa anyway, what does it matter what those fruits and veggies look like?