Here is a disturbing fact: 40% of food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “Food is the number one contributor to landfills today”. Why does this food go uneaten? Mostly because it is deemed imperfect. Ashley Weingart, mother of three, has decided to do something about that.
Nestled between a produce packaging company and a juicing company in a downtown Cleveland facility, Ashley Weingart runs her company Perfectly Imperfect Produce. Since her family has been in the produce industry since 1900, she’s familiar with how fresh fruits and vegetables are grown around the world and sold in bulk to grocery stores and food service companies.
Ashley has been witness to farms tossing aside produce because it was off-color, off-size or at a certain stage of ripeness. She has also been witness to companies waiting for food to be sold, only to let it rot as produce buyers are no longer interested in fruit that has become ripe or has a few imperfect spots.
“You’d think all of this food would get donated but a lot of it just sat there hoping to be sold and that bothered me.”
Adding to this, Ashley saw urban grocery stores steer clear of purchasing produce because it was too expensive for their low-income customers’ budgets.
All of this didn’t sit well with Ashley, and so like any strong-willed mompreneur, she decided to do something about it by starting Perfectly Imperfect Produce. Ashley works with produce companies to relieve them of their imperfect goods and sell them to customers at a lower price, all the while reducing food waste. Pretty impressive, right? We certainly thought so.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce is a subscription-based service where customers can choose from a a small box ($15) or a large box ($25) of fruits and vegetables to be delivered to your house weekly or bi-weekly. Customers receive a reminder email on Thursday night with a list of items that will be delivered the next day, a picture, and a recipe.
The boxes vary depending on the produce Ashley is able to purchase each week. Each box contains a mix of fruits and vegetables, some of which will even be organic. Every week Ashley can be found sorting through produce to find imperfect items versus unusable.
“There is a fine line between something being imperfect and not fresh. I’m never going to give somebody something that is not fresh.” – Ashley
Considering that the boxes are delivered and they are dealing with perishable food items, Perfectly Imperfect Produce only delivers to Cuyahoga county and its surrounding counties, but they are looking into the logistics of expanding their business into other metropolitan areas in the future.
We asked Ashley if it’s difficult being a mom and running her own business:
“I feel lucky I got to be home when my kids were little but I also always felt like I was meant to add my talents to the world in other ways. My days are short with one child in preschool – thankfully I have family!”
Not only does Ashley help reduce food waste and provide quality produce at a lower cost, but she also is dedicated to being waste-free. Any produce she doesn’t use goes to Rust Belt Riders who composts it, turns it to soil, and then sells it. She even tells customers to recycle their boxes.
If you want to join Ashley in helping to reduce food waste and save money on your produce, we highly recommend signing up for Perfectly Imperfect Produce.
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