My Experience With Imperfect Foods

This review is not sponsored and contains the author’s personal experience. The Good Trade purchased product for this review.

Confession: I’m terrible at grocery shopping. I can count on one hand the times this year I’ve planned out recipes and shopped using an actual grocery list. My partner and I are more of a whats-for-dinner-I’m-stopping-at-the-grocery-store-on-the-way-home-from-work couple. Neither of us enjoys cooking, and, if spending allowed for it, we’d likely order takeout most nights of the week (and by takeout, I mean Chipotle).

That said, we’re trying. While planned gourmet dinners may never be in our future (sorry to any children we may have), we’d like to find a bit of balance so that we’re not always scrambling to find something to eat. I’ll admit, too, there is a bit of satisfaction that comes with having something in your fridge other than a half-eaten wedge of Trader Joe’s creamy Toscano-soaked in Syrah cheese. 

Enter, Imperfect Foods. The produce delivery service (though they sell much more) that touts “an effortless and delightful” grocery shopping experience, with “scheduled weekly deliveries [to] help you save time, money, and the planet.”

That’s right; Imperfect Foods is also about saving the planet (which is where my ears perked). Of course, I’m eager to save time and money too, but the sustainability aspect is what really convinced me to give this box a try.

According to the website, Imperfect Foods fights food waste “by finding a home for the imperfect or ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables that farms couldn’t sell to grocery stores.” The company prioritizes intentional sourcing (by 2022, they plan to increase regional sourcing by 15 percent), and they’ve committed to becoming a net-zero carbon company by 2030 (you can learn all of this on the environmental impact page here). Consider me sold—at least for a couple of weeks. 

The account sign-up and ordering process with Imperfect Foods was seamless and stress-free, something I cannot always say about visiting my local grocery stores. You simply sign up for an account (this is free) and then answer a few questions about your household size and dietary preferences (e.g., 1-2 people, organic, plant-based).

The account sign-up and ordering process with Imperfect Foods was seamless and stress-free.

Then you shop. It’s super easy, and the company sends you texts and emails to notify you of your shopping window (ours was Thursday – Sunday). You can also preset your favorites to be included in every order, which is great if you eat the same foods weekly.

I also loved that the website tells you how the food is “imperfect,” so it specifies whether something was bulk production or “too flawed” for the store to sell. Obviously, items like eggs, cheeses, meats, and other pantry staples don’t fall into either of these categories, but Imperfect Food sells these items too—great if you need to get everything in one shipment.

My first box arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, yay! The company sent me text updates about my delivery window and I was able to track the driver to know when my order would arrive. (My second box was delivered at 9 p.m., so it seems the windows do vary; though, I think that’s likely out of Imperfect’s control.)

I’ve included the breakdown of my boxes below, but to summarize, we ordered mostly conventional produce, as well as eggs, tortillas, and some veggie patties from a brand I’d never heard of (they were delicious).

My Box Breakdowns: 

Box one ($32): 1 pound pink lady apples, 2 avocados, 1 pound carrots, 1 bag of mandarins, 1 clamshell of strawberries, half a pint of blueberries, 2 bell peppers, 1 container of organic grape tomatoes, a 6-pack of organic flour tortillas, and 1 carton of Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs. 

Box two ($35): 1 lb apples, 1 lb yellow onions, 2 bell peppers, 1 lb brussel sprouts, 1 stalk of celery, 1 bunch organic green onions, 1 lb organic baby carrots, 1 carton of Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs, and a 2-pack of veggie patties from The Actual Green Burger.

Imperfect Food’s packaging is impressive, with a cold sleeve, ice pack, and bubble wrap for the eggs (wasteful, but I’m not sure there is a way around this without risking a box of over-easies). Other than that, it’s just the cardboard box and brown paper. The team will also take back the cold sleeves and ice packs when they drop off your next delivery.

I will say, I was a bit disappointed when I opened my first Imperfect Food’s box and laid everything out on the table. The bounty looked relatively small for what I paid ($32 for the first box; $35 for the second). Comparatively, the prices were similar to those in the store, so maybe it’s just that I hadn’t hand-selected each item and watched the cashier ring them up.

As for quality, everything was fresh and tasted great, outside the mandarins, which spoiled in just two days. Also, we need to talk about the avocados. I get that we’re trying to save the planet, but the avocados were rock-hard and tiny. A sad day for us in the Christian household.

The bounty looked relatively small for what I paid. Comparatively, the prices were similar to those in the store.

Overall, I liked trying Imperfect Foods. It’s a convenient service that claims to be doing good, and it’s an accessible grocery option for people who can’t get to the store, especially during COVID. 

It is worth noting that the “ugly produce” movement has received backlash in the past from food-justice advocates. Critics have argued Imperfect Foods (and their competitors) have created a “trend that is undermining local, small-scale farmers and […] that commodifies and gentrifies food waste.” Something to definitely keep in mind as you make a decision for yourself.  

Many local CSAs also offer delivery services and have even ramped up during COVID. I’ve tried this one in Los Angeles and this one while living in London, and I can highly recommend both. While a bit more expensive, it’s nice to know my money supports local farmers and that I’m eating produce that was grown nearby.

But I can also see the appeal for a company like Imperfect Foods that offers a discounted option (and frequent discount codes) and delivers to more areas. (If you’re wondering where Imperfect Foods currently ships in the USA, here’s the map).

My conclusion is that Imperfect Foods works if you’re looking for convenient and reliable service with easy online ordering. Also, if you have a larger family, the big box options may be a great fit for you. Or if getting to the store is a challenge, Imperfect Foods is excellent for ordering everything in one swoop—they even sell makeup and personal hygiene.

Key Takeaways:

  • Imperfect Foods offers a convenient and reliable grocery delivery service, with options for dietary preferences and organic/non-organic produce.

  • Costs were comparable to LA grocery stores, and the “ugly produce” was just as fresh and tasty.

  • The packaging is mostly eco-friendly, and the company will recycle your ice packs when they drop off your next order.

  • The “ugly produce” movement has received backlash from food justice advocates—so it’s worth doing your research. I’d likely shop a local CSA in the future, as many offer delivery as well.

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Kayti Christian (she/her) is a Senior Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for enneagram 4s and other sensitive-identifying people. Outside of writing, she loves hiking, reading memoir, and the Oxford comma.