In 2018, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report detailing results from its food-waste auditing program, a program that was conducted in New York City, Nashville, and Denver. The results were redundant across the three cities, with Mile High City residents wasting the same amount of food as do those who live in Nashville and NYC: an average of 3.5 pounds per person per week. The NRDC also estimates that 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten, which adds up to a big problem to solve here and across the country.
San Francisco–based Imperfect Foods, which rescues and delivers cosmetically “imperfect” produce, meats, dairy products, and other shelf-stable surplus items, will start doing its part to help combat food waste on the Front Range starting March 16. It joins several established local food rescue organizations, from Metro Caring to We Don’t Waste to Food Maven, with a subscription- and delivery-based grocery model through which the company expects to save between 120,000 and 248,000 pounds of local food each month. Last year, it saved 500 million pounds of food from landfills across 42 states and is now ready to expand its mission in Denver.
Imperfect Foods hopes to give Denverites who prefer to shop online more variety and choice. In addition to partnering with local farmers and brands, from Strohauer Farms in La Salle to Justin’s Nut Butters and Boulder Canyon Chips, the company also offers it’s own private label products like chocolate-covered pretzels and unsweetened dried mango (made with rescued sunburnt fruit). “Folks in Colorado are really eco-focused,” says Adam Fishman, the chief growth officer for Imperfect Foods, “and they pride themselves on the commitment to building a better planet and a less wasteful society, so that that aligns very closely with us.”
Imperfect Foods hopes to positively change the way groceries are received and consumed. Instead of ending up in a landfill—where food scraps generate greenhouse gases—irregularly sized or cosmetically flawed foods will be diverted through the company to Coloradans’ kitchens. After signing up, users can fill customizable grocery boxes that will be delivered to their doors. Strohauer Farms is the first local producer to participate, and Imperfect Foods plans to add more in the future. “Our goal is to find and work with as many local suppliers as possible,” Fishman says.
In addition to saving and redistributing edible goods, the brand is proud of its “kinder,” more environmentally friendly approach to packaging groceries for delivery. Imperfect Foods uses boxes and packaging materials that are either recyclable or compostable to minimize the company’s carbon footprint, and, on its website, helps customers identify how to properly dispose of the packaging, from the insulated liners to the cushioning inside each box.
Fighting local food insecurity is also on Imperfect Food’s grocery list: After the company launches services in the Mile High City, it will donate $10,000 to the Food Bank of the Rockies. The company plans to collaborate with local restaurants as well to create a zero-waste menu for its food waste week in April. In honor of that forthcoming event, of which the details are still to be announced, New Belgium Brewing Company will release an exclusive beer made from Imperfect Foods products.
Denverites can begin receiving Imperfect Foods deliveries starting March 16. Pricing varies and delivery starts at $4.99. Learn more here.