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Imperfect, Misfit, Etc. (The Food Delivery Services)


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Over in the Food in the time of a pandemic discussion these services have come up a few times: they are marketing themselves as a sort of environmentally-friendly food delivery service, on the premise that they are selling you food (particularly produce) that would otherwise be discarded for being "imperfect." I can't speak to Misfit or any others that might be out there, but I subscribe to Imperfect and have been pretty pleased with the results. Honestly, I'm happy when they give me some kind of crazy mutant carrot (or whatever) because then their model makes sense to me. It's those not-so-imperfect avocados, etc. that I wonder about.

 

What sort of similar services are out there? Are you happy with yours? Do you feel like you're actually reducing food waste, or is it just clever branding on a standard food delivery service?

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Chris Hennes
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6 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Do you feel like you're actually reducing food waste, or is it just clever branding on a standard food delivery service?

 

I'm pretty sure it's a bit of both; they can't easily sell those crazy mutant carrots at Food Emporium, so if someone will cook with them, all the better. And there's def some creative marketing behind the trend.

 

Thing is, with all the food insecurity in this country, all this stuff could be put to good use, but then it has to work politically because of how screwed up the world is.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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As I said over on the pandemic thread, I'm THRILLED with my Misfits purchases.  I can't get groceries delivered where I live.  Yes, I can go to the big city and get curbside, but having it delivered is great.  I had thought that I would cancel over the summer, but I don't grow things like celery or broccoli so I might just keep going on the once every two weeks plan.  After the new year I may check out Imperfect....I'd like to see what meats or seafoods they offer.

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I agree with @weinoo - it's a bit of both.  But the one that Jessica's been getting (a gift) has had very good produce.  I know that she got to choose what she got, but I don't know if she could have gotten a smaller portion, which would be better for us.  As far as whether this stuff is actually "misfit", it's a mix - the apples were very small and oddly shaped, but the red pears were huge and perfect.  Hard to say.  Those giant carrots:

IMG_4219.thumb.jpg.dba9a96deac7b37190150976b36765ba.jpg

We are still eating them.  They are so sweet.  Good thing we got them - poor Mr. Kim's carrots are still just orangy threads with robust foliage.  It's his first garden and he's had limited success, to be kind.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's interesting to note that the fruit and vegetable cart guys on the corners in NYC have been selling what are essentially misfit and imperfect foods since the beginning of...well, since whenever they started.

 

image.png.f1e79c4c5be654f36cb2d81fb68604fd.png

 

Like Hennes's berries and worse-for-the-wear carrots, the stuff in packages and clamshells you have to expect it's not all going to be usable. But otherwise one can pick and choose one's own apples, bananas, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. Dates are important to check if you can (then again, I check dates no matter where I shop); for example, he always has those packages of 3 heads of Romaine from Salinas or wherever. But yesterday when I looked at the dates (they all have "harvest" dates and where they are from, I guess since the recall problems with produce like this) - they were picked on Nov. 30th - that's a pass.

 

I generally go by a few times a week just to see what's available and what looks good. Prices can be extremely low - 5 limes for a buck (don't tell you-know-who), giant heads of cabbage for $2; or they can be comparable to what I might pay in Chinatown or at Trader Joe's, were I to shop there - mushrooms at $2 a package, bananas at 4 for $1.

 

Since pandemic times, his cart has expanded greatly, as have his hours - basically 24/7, except during really inclement weather. The cart used to be hauled away nightly; now it basically is part of the streetscape at all times. And it serves a purpose, the same as these new services do.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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12 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

What would a week be without some somewhat-the-worse-for-wear carrots?

 

Nice green slender celery - bet it is flvorful. As for the carrot glut - do you do spicy pickled carrot coins? Always a great snack or conterpoint to a richer dish.

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We have tried both Misfits and Imperfect since early in the pandemic, and have enjoyed both of them. Imperfect works a little better for us — the selection and method of choosing fits us better — and Misfits had some packaging issues back when we used them last. But we'd be thrilled to have either if the other weren't around, and I may start throwing in an occasional Misfits box to spice things up now that the weather is cold and our CSA haul is much smaller.

I generally like the idea of cooking from constraints — it leads me to be more creative — and when I'm able to cook from what I have instead of buying for recipes, I think I end up wasting less food on my end of the equation.

 

As for the "imperfection" or lack thereof — I think both services tell you why things are there if you dig into the item descriptions. A lot of it seems to just be sizing — we keep getting small avocados, which are perfect for us, but aren't a size I've ever seen in the store. And some things are just surplus; large buyers and processors are inflexible. I happen to fly a lot on JetBlue for work during normal times, and early in the pandemic I ordered a JetBlue-branded cheese tray for a laugh.

 

@weinoo you're right about street carts traditionally filling a similar role. Most places I've lived have something similar; here in Boston it's Haymarket, where early on Fridays and Saturdays you can go and buy misfit produce from misfit produce sellers who'll yell at you for touching the tomatoes. And I remember my grandfather back in Detroit frequenting a lot of "fruit stands"; by that time they were standalone stores, but things turned up there that wouldn't turn up at the supermarket.

 

But times change, and I think fewer people in aggregate use these various options — so I'm frankly glad to see these companies bringing produce to people who might never go anywhere but their supermarket to buy veggies. And of course, I'm glad not to have to go there myself until I'm vaccinated. (Strangely I think grocery shopping — *browsing* for groceries — is one of the things I miss most.)

 

@mgaretz I do wish they'd offer an every 3 week or every 4 week subscription option. Easy enough to skip, but still.

 

@Shelby one of the reasons we dropped Misfits and stuck with Imperfect over the summer was because Imperfect offers various sizes of fruit box — you can still add veggies to it, but they only put fruit in by default. Our CSA is vegetable-only, so it was a good match. They also have a pretty good selection of non-produce items, so I'm usually able to add a bunch of stuff I would buy elsewhere to get over the line for free shipping.

 

As an aside, I logged in this morning to start a separate thread about using up carrots. We joined a root vegetable CSA this winter and oh my god.
 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, dtremit said:

sellers who'll yell at you for touching the tomatoes

You mean...

 

855347893_DonttouchnontoccareIMG_0159.thumb.JPG.0aa6d7b78bf51f053fea305b2edcea3f.JPG

 

2 hours ago, dtremit said:

But times change, and I think fewer people in aggregate use these various options

 

I don't know about this - certainly not true in Manhattan, where the vendors I refer to are near every subway station and then some.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Just now, weinoo said:

 

I don't know about this - certainly not true in Manhattan, where the vendors I refer to are near every subway station and then some.

 

Manhattan is in many ways a special case 😀

 

I can only really speak to where I live, but folks in Boston grumble that Haymarket isn't what it used to be, and a lot of the "mom and pop" fruit stands I used to go to in Detroit are either long gone, or have transformed into full scale grocery stores with more of an emphasis on quality than price.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I forgot that like a month or so ago, I ordered a box from Imperfect Foods; it arrived yesterday.

 

I have to say, everything is kind of in the condition I normally purchase. Sure, the (red) peppers look like contortionists, and the Mandarins are larger than the ones you find bagged up, but pears, apples, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, limes, sweet potatoes, etc. are all just fine - nothing rotten or on the verge of spoiling.  There's even a nice Niman Ranch sliced, smoked ham. If this stuff were to go to waste, that's practically criminal.

 

Quite pleasantly surprised, and I might just add a box every other week or so, to my regular rotation.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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48 minutes ago, weinoo said:

So I forgot that like a month or so ago, I ordered a box from Imperfect Foods; it arrived yesterday.

 

I have to say, everything is kind of in the condition I normally purchase. Sure, the (red) peppers look like contortionists, and the Mandarins are larger than the ones you find bagged up, but pears, apples, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, limes, sweet potatoes, etc. are all just fine - nothing rotten or on the verge of spoiling.  There's even a nice Niman Ranch sliced, smoked ham. If this stuff were to go to waste, that's practically criminal.

 

Quite pleasantly surprised, and I might just add a box every other week or so, to my regular rotation.

I need to revisit their website.  I'm wondering if I can see what they offer without actually placing an order yet.

 

Fedex says they have my Misfits box loaded and it's supposed to be here today.  I'm going to be very pleased if that happens.  I emailed Misfits last weekend because I realized that my normal delivery day was tomorrow (NewYears Day) and I was concerned because obviously that wasn't going to happen and out here they don't normally deliver anything on the weekends.  Their customer service wrote me back promptly and said they would try to make adjustments and they must have been successful.

 

Now I need to go through and organize the fridge lol

 

@TicTac you might be interested in this thread.  There is more discussion also on the food in the time of a pandemic thread.

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1 hour ago, Shelby said:

I'm wondering if I can see what they offer without actually placing an order yet.

 

I don't know if you can; but I think you can place the order, and then cancel it - if you remember to!

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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5 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

I don't know if you can; but I think you can place the order, and then cancel it - if you remember to!

 

You can definitely do this — I have! But if I remember, I will screenshot or capture the available selection on Monday.

Your day will vary, but for me, the shopping window runs from Monday at noon to Wednesday at noon, for Friday delivery. At any point before that Wednesday noon time, you can go into your account and skip the delivery.


(As an aside, I find the best strategy for the widest selection of items is to log in once at the beginning of the shopping window, and then to check *back* sometime towards the end. Imperfect fills your "default" cart based on your subscriptions, and then you add or remove things from it as you like. So some things that are sold out at the beginning may become available as people remove them from their defaults.)

 

We really like the Capra lamb tamales, when they're available (though you have to like lamb).

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Got my box.  While I'm so happy they got it to me early, for the first time, they messed up my order.  I'm doing this ordering stuff to stay out of the store and I really needed lettuce.  We go through a ton of it.  I had to go to the liquor store yesterday so I ran in to the tiny store in the nearest town--they only had iceberg --but I grabbed a head.  Anyway, lettuce was supposed to come today, instead I got KALE :( .  We are not kale fans.....I'm thinking about replacing the collard greens I had planned on for tomorrow with that (it's still considered a lucky leafy green).  Think that would work?

 

thumbnail_IMG_0323.jpg.77d86c8dc98ffc2fd7415c7bf142f43b.jpg

 

thumbnail_IMG_0324.jpg.c44220a8d1aedb28e1d3ba2b133bfb5b.jpg

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38 minutes ago, Shelby said:

Got my box.  While I'm so happy they got it to me early, for the first time, they messed up my order.  I'm doing this ordering stuff to stay out of the store and I really needed lettuce.  We go through a ton of it.  I had to go to the liquor store yesterday so I ran in to the tiny store in the nearest town--they only had iceberg --but I grabbed a head.  Anyway, lettuce was supposed to come today, instead I got KALE :( .  We are not kale fans.....I'm thinking about replacing the collard greens I had planned on for tomorrow with that (it's still considered a lucky leafy green).  Think that would work?

 

thumbnail_IMG_0323.jpg.77d86c8dc98ffc2fd7415c7bf142f43b.jpg

 

thumbnail_IMG_0324.jpg.c44220a8d1aedb28e1d3ba2b133bfb5b.jpg

I would not use that curly kale instead of collards as in my experience it won't cook up lush and plush - just chewy and not much flavor.. 

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24 minutes ago, TicTac said:

Thanks @Shelby - stuff looks great.  Love the concept. 

 

Doubt they deliver to Canada though.... :sad:

Damn good thing I say if they’re going to confuse kale with lettuce. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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7 minutes ago, LBNoble said:

I don’t have collards either, so I will cook my kale & Swiss chard w/ a little bacon for greens for tomorrow, already cooked black eyed peas & will make cornbread, too. Happy New Year, everyone!

Thumbs up on the Swiss chard - it gets silky. I could be the outlier as always but black kale for sure fits. The crunchy stuff - I'll pass but will keep an open mind to see how it works for you. ;)

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This is the curly kale, so we’ll see- I had lacinato kale in my last box & made a frittata w/ kale/bacon/Gruyere for Xmas morning, it was delicious (had chopped Roma tomatoes w/ basil & balsamic on the side)-

 

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5 hours ago, Anna N said:

Damn good thing I say if they’re going to confuse kale with lettuce. 

Amen sister!  Kale has no place in my kitchen. 

 

Speak its marketed praises all you will, that horrid green shant grace my plates!

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