WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio — Ashley Weingart is the founder and CEO of Perfectly Imperfect Produce. She and her team know it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
“It just didn’t sit well with me that I was witnessing so much waste at every point of the food system from field to plate and really just wanted to come up with a way to get more fresh food into the hands of our neighbors who didn’t have enough of that healthy food,” said Weingart. “So I created this new system where we can box up those items and deliver them right to your customer’s doors.”
They source imperfect or surplus produce from local farms and wholesalers that don’t fit grocery stores or consumers’ ideas of perfection.
“What we’re trying to reteach people is that fruits and vegetables don’t have to look perfect to be delicious. If you’ve ever grown vegetables in your own garden, they don’t come out of the ground perfectly shaped,” said Weingart.
That odd-looking, slightly bruised or even surplus produce would likely end up in a landfill. Perfectly Imperfect Produce gets it into the hands of those who need it.
“It’s important to keep food out of landfills because it creates dangerous methane gases that are detrimental to our atmosphere. And it’s also a waste of the energy and the resources used to produce that food. And we also just feel really strongly that no food should be wasted, when more than 40 million Americans go hungry,” said Weingart.
Researchers estimate that around 19 million people don’t have easy access to a supermarket or grocery store, otherwise known as living in food desert.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce not only is passionate about reducing food waste, but also improving healthy food access to all.
“Fruits and vegetables are a staple in keeping your body healthy and we know that it’s not always easy to access fruits and vegetables so we like to bring it to the people through our home delivery boxes,” said Jodi Mitchell, the director of customer service and community relations for Perfectly Imperfect Produce.
For every box of food they sell, Perfectly Imperfect Produce makes donations to local food pantries.
Monika Mirsalis is a loyal customer for that reason.
With more than 40 million people facing food insecurity in America, and almost 2 million of them being right here in Ohio, she doesn’t want to add to the problem, but instead be a part of the solution.
“It breaks my heart to think about the amount of children in our own communities that go hungry every day when there are services, and not only services, but when there’s food available and it’s not being utilized,” said Mirsalis.
After all, a little blemish never hurt anybody as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“People just have to have an open mind and be, you know, a little bit adventurous and look past some of those blemishes or imperfections and know that they can transform them into something really amazing,” said Mirsalis.
In just under five years of being in operation, Perfectly Imperfect Produce estimates that they’ve rescued more than 2 million pounds of produce and have donated more than 200,000 pounds of food to families in need.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce is now offering meal kits. For more information on Perfectly Imperfect Produce visit their website.