KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kallie Schaefer's Instagram feed is full of delicious looking food. She loves to cook, and she recently stumbled across a new way to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into her dishes.
"I just saw an ad on my Instagram feed and thought it sounded kind of cool, and they had a coupon for the first box, so I signed up for it," Schaefer said.
The service she signed up for is called Imperfect Produce. The company's been around about five years, but it recently began rapidly expanding. Now, it's delivering in the Kansas City area.
It's estimated 20 percent of all fruits and vegetables never make it into grocery stores or restaurants. Many are turned away by suppliers, simply because they look strange. Start-up companies are now finding new ways to get that less-than-perfect produce to your doorstep.
"There's no reason this stuff shouldn't be able to be sold and enjoyed, so by connecting our community with it, I think it makes a powerful statement, and everyone starts to think about food a little bit differently," Imperfect Produce content manager Reilly Brock said.
The foods come mostly pre-ripened and have slight flaws, like imperfect size, shape, or color. These faults got them rejected by major food suppliers, who are looking to meet high, strict quality standards for grocery stores and restaurants. However, Schaefer found her first box of Imperfect Produce food pretty impressive.
"It was much more perfect than I expected it to be, but I've really liked everything I got," Shaefer said.
Produce boxes start around $15 and go up to around $40. You can customize your menu each week. The goal is to get food that might otherwise end up in the dump to your doorstep instead.
"It's exciting adding more produce to my diet, knowing I'm decreasing waste, and it's challenging me to decrease waste at home too, so using everything I get each week," Schaefer said.
It's also costing her less while pushing her creativity in the kitchen.
"If we can spread awareness and appreciation for all the work that goes into our food system, we can address such a bigger piece of the pie by teaching folks how to cook with what's in season, how to store stuff properly, how to get creative with their leftovers," Brock said. "We can then address that home level food waste, which is such an important piece of the pie as well."
Imperfect Produce currently serves these seven metro cities: Kansas City, Mo., Overland Park, Shawnee, Gladstone, Raytown, Lenexa and Leawood. The company plans to add more neighborhoods soon, along with expanding to dairy and meat offerings in the future.
A portion of all local proceeds get donated to Harvesters Community Food Network.