This startup is using ‘ugly’ produce to make sustainable eating affordable

At Misfits Market, “ugly” is a compliment.

The startup, launched by Abhi Ramesh in 2018, specializes in misshapen, excess or otherwise unwanted produce. These are the brand’s “misfits,” which it delivers to customers in 23 states as a part of its sustainable, cost-saving grocery boxes.

Ramesh told In The Know that he wants to help “break the cycle of food waste,” a goal his company strives toward by taking rejected grocery store produce and delivering it straight to consumers.

“Because supermarkets prize uniformity, anything that’s too big or too small for grocery displays or a little misshapen is also likely to get rejected,” he said. “Often, though, our misfit produce is simply excess supply for which the growers have no outlet. It may even look exactly like what you’d find in the supermarket.”

The only real difference, according to Ramesh, is the price. The CEO told In The Know that his startup helps shoppers while it helps the earth, providing lower prices than traditional supermarkets.

“[Our growers] let us know how much it would cost to harvest, clean and pack the produce that would otherwise go to waste, and we’ll make sure the price is structured accordingly,” Ramesh said.

In practice, that concept takes the form of two main options, the “Mischief” box and the “Madness” box. The Mischief, which costs $22, comes with 10-13 pounds of fresh, organic produce — enough to feed two people for a week, according to the company’s site. The Madness, meanwhile, is a larger, $35 option delivering 18-22 pounds.

The delivery-centric approach is key for Ramesh, who sees his service as a way of increasing the number of people who can access quality produce.

“We’re providing affordable organic food to customers who may have never had affordable access to organic produce before,” he told In The Know.

Misfits Market’s boxes are always somewhat of a surprise, containing a new assortment of fruits and veggies each time. Ramesh said customers can expect all of the staples — like zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, apples, peaches and mangos — but also some occasional “surprises,” such as watermelon, radishes or tomatillos.

“A lot of customers tell us that opening their box is like Christmas, a fun surprise they look forward to each week,” Ramesh said.

Ultimately, the CEO hopes his customers are both enjoying and learning from their produce. His goal is for each box to help consumers become more conscious of the Earth and how they can help it.

“Every time customers accept a curvy carrot or a bruised apple, rather than buy into aesthetic standards of ‘perfect’ food, they support a solution to a huge problem and create new economic opportunity for growers,” Ramesh said.

If you liked this story, check out our article on the sustainable sandals made from plastic and plants.

More from In The Know:

Armie Hammer’s quarantine makeover was certainly a choice

You can still buy the $5 cleanser Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy used

This $20 tightening cream feels like ‘vacation in a jar’

Shoppers love this $6 balm that treats damaged hair

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: