Giving Imperfect Produce a Purpose
Imperfect, or out-of-spec, products didn’t meet a specific cosmetic, packaging, or dating requirement set by the buyer. These products contribute to the billions of pounds of perfectly good food that is thrown away in landfills each year. So, how does this happen exactly?
Grocery stores stock shelves with products that have a consistent shape, size, and color. However, nature doesn’t always produce food that meet store requirements. Products often end up in funny shapes, have minor insect damage, and have scars or blemishes due to harsh weather conditions.
Additionally, cosmetic changes in packaging can lead to food waste. When brands update packaging, their current products are taken of the shelves and perfect good food is thrown away due to outdated packaging.
Lastly, grocery stores turn away products with expiration or best by dates that are too close to the receiving date. However, terms like “best buy,” “sell buy,” and “use by” don’t mean much. Besides baby formula, the federal government doesn’t require food dating, therefore it’s often determined by arbitrary factors from the producer or grower. By storing and handling food properly, products can remain safe to eat long after the recommended date, as long as there are no signs of spoilage.
Amber Strohauer is head of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Grower’s Association’s Business Development Committee and a 4th generation farmer on her family farm, Strohauer Farms. She’s passionate about making sure that imperfect produce is used for good purpose. FoodMaven is helping get this perfectly good food to a plate.
If you’re a foodservice buyer and looking to save on high-quality, imperfect ingredients, learn more about becoming a buyer.