These fruits and vegetables may not be perfect, but show them some love—after all, they’re saving the planet.
There’s nothing ugly about imperfect produce except what happens if you don’t use it: wasted, adding to the more than 33 million tons of food that ends up in landfills annually or the six billion pounds of fresh produce that go unharvested or unsold each year.* Produce can be labeled “imperfect” because strict cosmetic standards for color, size, weight or blemish levels aren’t met, but as we all know, beauty is more than skin deep.
In the last five years, organizations such as Imperfect Produce, Hungry Harvest and Misfits Market have cropped up to provide new markets for growers by buying up farmers’ ugly or excess produce and shipping it directly to customers’ doorsteps, often by subscription. Preceding them all, for the foodservice industry, was Markon Cooperative, Reinhart’s exclusive produce partner.
The Markon Essentials line was presciently created back in 1985 to change the trajectory, and offers operators the opportunity to purchase usable, good quality produce that simply didn’t meet the exacting criteria for appearance. According to Cathy Gomez, marketing director, Markon now moves more than 3.6 million packages and 136 million pounds of misshapen, imperfect produce each year, including apples, avocados, bell peppers, cucumbers, lemons, limes, mushrooms, onions, oranges, potatoes and tomatoes.
That’s a good look for us all.
But we can go even further, and in 2019, we’re no longer relegating them to supporting roles in soups and casseroles or hiding them beneath their more perfect siblings. We’re now embracing their flaws and letting them bask in the spotlight, as seen in this splendid setup using Markon’s imperfect produce, perfectly ready for prime time.