Unboxing Ugly Produce - Frightful or Delightful?
I am a big fan of delivery services in general. The less time I can spend in a store or less fuel I use driving from store to store, the better. However, I have been always been a little skeptical of having produce delivered as I envisioned bumped, bruised and broken fruits and vegetables. But as the the pandemic set in and we were having groceries delivered, I decided to try out one of the services that I had been curious about for some time--Misfits Market.
Misfits offers organic produce that could be thrown out due to imperfections that the standard grocery stores wouldn't want, but is otherwise perfectly good produce. The imperfections could be due to size--very large or very small compared to what you are used to seeing in the store. Or if a farmer has a bumper crop and can't sell all through normal channels, Mistfits Market can be an outlet for their produce as well. So the claim is to help reduce food waste at a reduced cost.
I have been a subscriber for over eight months and here are a few things I have observed about the service:
There are a couple different options for delivery: the Mischief box for $22 (feeds 1-2 people per week) or the Madness box for $35 (feeds 3-5 people per week). I chose the Madness box to be delivered every 2 weeks. do not cook every day but I still wanted a good variety of fruits and vegetables.
My first couple of boxes were a lot of fun to open and discover fruits and vegetables that I may not normally buy in the grocery store. Most of the produce looked perfectly normal. Occasionally I would get very tiny onions or giant lemons. The sweet potatoes tended to come in intesteresting shapes. But everything seemed fresh and tasted good.
After about four boxes, I was considering cancelling the subscription. Not because of quality but because I was receiving more and more produce that I didn't normally use. It would tend to go bad before I had time to come up with a recipe to use it--completely contradicting the premise of reducing food waste. Then I discovered that you could go online and make your own choices as to what you wanted in your box the week before your box ships. This is based on what they have available at the time, but it was a game changer. Now I was getting a box every two weeks with produce that I knew we would use up in two weeks time.
So what is in a box? Here is the latest box I received:
When you open the box, there is a ice pack that has contents which are biodegradable. It says when the contents melt, you can put them down the drain or in your garden/yard. Since we are on septic, I tend not to put things down the drain if I don't have to, so I cut the plastic and pour it in the yard. The plastic cover does go in the trash.
Once I pull out the packing, you can see that the lighter, leaf produce is typically boxed on top.
Heavier items are underneath.
So for my $35 plus tax and shipping (approximately $4.50 for me each shipment), I recieved:
2 large heads of romaine
2 bunches of kale
1 napa cabbage
1 butternut squash
1 spaghetti squash
2 bunches green onion
3 yellow squash
1 celery bunch
They also have add ons that you can choose from each week. I added the two avocados and the five mandarins for approximately $5 more.
I have been pleased with their customer service. Once I received a squash that was partially bad and they immediately gave me credit toward my next box once I sent a note and a picture of the squash. There have been shipping delays due to Covid this year and Misfits has always communicated any change or delay in shipping. Also, you have the option to pause a box. For example, we were out of town for over a week and I basically skipped a box so we didn't have produce we couldn't use.
As far as cost, they claim they are up to 40% cheaper than grocery store prices. For comparison, I placed a mock order at Whole Foods for this particular box. While it's not an exact replication of the order, I was able to find almost all direct comparisons and my savings were approximately $10. Not earth shattering savings, but it did save some money and I still feel good about helping prevent waste.
Overall, I would recommend Misfits Market--especially if you are already buying organic or if you just want to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet.