Food & dining

Cosmetically challenged produce, delivered straight to your door

Shriveled pepper? Twisted carrot? Bruised strawberry? For years confined to the dustbins of culinary history, their fates have ripened thanks to Imperfect Produce. Now, fruits and vegetables that aren’t attractive enough for grocery store shelves — but edible and tasty just the same — have a new purpose.

The online grocery service rescues cosmetically challenged produce from farms and delivers it directly to customers, who sign up for weekly or biweekly shipments ranging from seven to 25 pounds of food, starting at $11. Choose your favorite assortment of unsightly goods, and also select shelf-stable grocery items such as lentils and quinoa. Imperfect launched here on Monday, July 15, with delivery in Boston and nearby suburbs.

The San Francisco-based company was co-founded by Newton native Ben Chesler in 2015. To date, the company has recovered 40 million pounds of food that would otherwise go to waste. In this case, beauty really is skin deep.


“Supermarkets set cosmetic standards. We joke: For a pepper to be considered Grade A, it has to stand on its own without falling over, or it has to be fully green or yellow. Cherries have to be between a certain number of millimeters in depth. There are optical standards,” Chesler says.

The company has partnered with Daily Table, a nonprofit grocer in Dorchester that sells excess food donated by local growers. Sign up for Imperfect Produce using coupon code helloboston, and they’ll donate $5 to the store.

Kara Baskin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.