Is it attractive to eat ugly? Contact 6 tests Imperfect Produce delivery service

CEDARBURG -- Does eating ugly sound attractive? A food delivery service that launched in Milwaukee in 2018 wants to put food rejected by grocery stores in your kitchen pantry. Contact 6 tested the service called Imperfect Produce. Lauren O'Brien, a mother of two, had been thinking about trying out a food delivery service and offered to give it a try for Contact 6. "I love that it's just produce delivered to your house, and not like you have to go online and do the whole order thing," O'Brien said ahead of testing Imperfect Produce. The delivery service sells cosmetically ugly and surplus produce from farms, which might otherwise be used as animal feed, sold to a processor or left in a field. O'Brien placed an order for a large mixed box with up to 19 pounds of food. The website gave the option to customize, but O'Brien didn't do that for the order. The entire order cost about $26. "I'm just curious to see what they send," O'Brien said after the order was placed. The order arrived in a white van during a predetermined delivery window. The driver left it on the doorstep, took a picture and rang the doorbell. Inside the box was a variety of produce, including apples, carrots, peppers, lemons, potatoes, avocados, fennel and more. O'Brien observed that it actually isn't ugly at all. "The apples are tinier, which is fine 'cause I have toddlers, and then the carrots are pretty large, and then the tomatoes are maybe on the small side," she said. Reilley Brock, produce content manager for Imperfect Produce said he's not surprised. "Some of the most common feedback we get is it's kind of underwhelmingly imperfect some weeks," he said. Brock said right now, a lot of their produce is coming from farms in California or Mexico, but the company does work with the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative to buy from local farms during harvest season. "They network us with dozens of different farmers out there in Wisconsin growing things like cucumbers and squash and kale and peppers," Brock explained. He said their produce had similar shelf life to what you find at the grocery store and costs about 30 percent less. Contact 6 compared five Imperfect Produce prices to Pick 'n Save and three times Pick 'n Save was cheaper. Imperfect Produce marks down their cost further for people on food stamps. "In full disclosure, we don't even make money off these boxes, but we offer them because we think it's the right thing to do and we have about 10,000 individuals enrolled in this now," Brock said. Imperfect or not, the food passes the taste test at O'Brien's house. "That seems like what you'd get at a farmers market," she said. Imperfect Produce is a weekly service. It sells organic and non-organic boxes sent from a distribution center in St. Francis. Right now, the delivery area is Cedarburg south to Oak Creek and out east to Waukesha. The company does plan to expand.

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