Ask Ann: What is Imperfect Produce and Should I Sign up for It?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder with these fruits and vegetables.

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Q: I keep seeing ads for Imperfect Produce. How is it different from getting a subscription to a local farm and receiving regular boxes of what they grow?

A: Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco-based subscription service that recently started offering service in Milwaukee, is different from the standard CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model, in which farms offer subscriptions to their harvested goods.

As its name implies, Imperfect Produce liberates produce that doesn’t meet grocery store visual aesthetics (because of shape or a “scar” on it, or there’s simply a surplus), but is completely safe to eat. It’s in the name of combatting food waste that this company came into being. (One of the founders also started a nonprofit devoted to ending the waste on college campuses.)

And the way subscriptions are set up, you can customize your own box – which is not the case with a CSA. The company offers a menu of 30-40 items (conventional and organic) each week and tells you where it’s grown (the delivery area, when possible); you decide how much of each item you want. Imperfect touts its produce as priced 30-50 percent lower than at typical grocery stores. Organic boxes range from $15/box for 7-9 pounds (which serves 1-2 people) to $43 for 23-25 pounds (serves 6-7 people).

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“Ask Ann” appeared in the August 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.