Misfits Market Produce Box
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I Ordered Groceries From Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods — and Here's How It Went

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Misfits Market Produce Box
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An Ugly Produce Face-Off

It's tough to measure up to conventional beauty standards — especially, it turns out, if you're a potato. Or a mango. Or pretty much any fruit or vegetable. Because if you're a runt-of-the-crop cabbage or celery root that looks a little too much like an alien, the grocery stores won't stock you. And yes, a huge amount of food waste — up to around 40%, according to a recent Forbes article — can be attributed to the fruits and vegetables that supermarkets won't put on shelves because of perceived defects. This is why companies like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market have cropped up. These are only two of the bigger players in a list of startups that are aiming to curb food waste by offering customers the produce that grocery stores reject. We ordered from both sites for a few weeks to see what each has to offer, how they differ, and so on. 


Related: Kroger, Walmart and Other Grocery Rewards Programs That Will Save You Money

Misfits Market Box
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What They Offer: Misfits Market

Based in Philadelphia and founded in 2018, Misfits Market offers mostly organic produce (according to its website, a "vast majority") sourced from "hand-picked farms and food hubs across the Americas," as well as some items, such as citrus and avocados, sourced from "outside the country to offer more variety in your box." You can also order add-on products like snacks, beverages, pantry staples, and more. The company also recently started offering wine to customers in many states with a minimum three bottles per shipment. For a clearer idea of the types and variety of produce offered by Misfits Market at any given time, visit its website.


Related: Here's How Much More You'll Pay for Organic Groceries Across America

Imperfect Food Box
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What They Offer: Imperfect Foods

Founded in 2015, this San Francisco-based company was one of the forerunners of the ugly produce market. It has a larger selection of grocery items than Misfits Market, including meat and seafood, a wide selection of plant-based foods, eggs and dairy, household and beauty products, and more. Unlike Misfits Market, a fair bit of the produce from Imperfect Foods is not organic (but all products are clearly labeled). The company sources the majority of its produce from California (which also happens to be where "80% of the fresh produce in the U.S. is grown," according to the company's FAQs section). 


Related: Online Grocery Delivery Comparison: Is One of These Services Right for You?

Misfits Market Box Options
Misfits Market

The Sign-Up Process + Pricing: Misfits Market

Since we first wrote this story, Misfits Market has simplified its ordering process. Customers now have a montly three-day shopping window during which they can build their order. The company requires a minimum order of $30 (note that wine does not count toward the minimum). You can also skip orders at any time and even donate an order instead of skipping it. 


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Imperfects Food Sign Up
Imperfect Foods

The Sign-Up Process + Pricing: Imperfect Foods

At Imperfect Foods, you'll get started by answering simple questions about how many people live with you, dietary preferences, and so on. You'll then choose a produce box type — regular, all fruit, all veggie, or organic; a box size — small, medium, large, or extra-large; and a frequency: weekly or bi-weekly. The service makes it relatively easy to skip deliveries. Customers can also choose to add on options such as a Plant Pack, Dairy Pack, Snack Pack, Meat & Fish Pack, Grains Pack, and Pantry Pack. You can choose any or all of these — each is $10 per shipment. 


Finally, Imperfect Foods chooses your delivery day for you, and some parts of the country do require a minimum order.

Misfits Market FAQ
Misfits Market

Ordering From Both Companies

Both Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market offer customers a shopping window of around three days during which time they can choose the types of produce and any add-ons they want. You'll receive both text and email notifications to let you know when that window opens. The window is typically from Friday or Saturday until midday Monday. 

Imperfect Foods Produce
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Choosing Your Groceries: Imperfect Foods

Once your window opens, you log onto the site to choose the specific produce and grocery items you want. It's important to note that your cart will be pre-filled with items the service has chosen for you (based on your stated preferences). It's fairly easy to add and replace what you don't want, but if you don't customize your order, Imperfect Foods will ship you the items it has pre-populated your cart with regardless. 


Related: 50 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

Misfits Market Opened Box
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Choosing Your Groceries: Misfits Market

Unlike Imperfect Foods, if you don't log in to customize your cart during your ordering window, Misfits Market will automatically skip that order. Note that for your order to be processed and delivered, it must be a minimum of $30. Also important: There is no standard "check out" required — you just load your cart with items you want and Misfits Market will do the rest. 


Related: 21 Grocery Shopping Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

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Delivery + Fees: Misfits Market

Misfits Market delivers to 43 states and Washington, D.C. (since we last published this article, delivery has been extended to Arizona, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. To find out if the service delivers in your area, you can check here. Shipping is a flat rate of $5.50 to all locations in the company's delivery areas.

Imperfect Foods Opened Box
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Delivery + Fees: Imperfect Foods

Imperfect Foods delivers to "most of the West South Central region, Midwest, Northeast and all along the West Coast." As the company notes, they're "expanding quickly." You can find out if they deliver to your area here. Delivery fees at Imperfect Foods range from $4.99 to $8.99.

Cthulhu
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The 'Ugly' Element

So, is the produce coming from these companies really that "ugly?" Actually, rarely (although, yes, there was a celery root that my husband nicknamed Cthulhu because it was rather, um, gnarly-looking). More often than not, it seemed to be the size of the produce that deemed it grocery store-unworthy. For instance, we got a red cabbage from one service that we mistook for a red onion at first because it was so small. Then again, when I buy cabbage from the grocery store, I rarely use the whole head before it starts to go south and I have to toss a hunk of it in the trash or compost bin. 


On the flip side, we received some mangos that were so small that my mango-loving youngest son and I argued over who would get to eat them. On a week when I didn't have time to customize my order, we received an absolutely massive papaya that ended up spoiling on our countertop because no one in my family likes papaya.


Related: 12 Easy Storage Tips to Keep Produce Fresh Longer

Misfits Market Veggies
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Quality of Produce

In terms of quality, I had few complaints or concerns when it came to both companies. I will say that my teenage sons commented positively on the flavor of some of the organic vegetables we received from Misfits Market, and I agree that the produce we received from both companies seemed fresher than what you can find in the supermarket. No such comments were forthcoming about Imperfect Foods, but deliveries from that service also came later (they didn't start delivering to my area until April), so it's possible that by then my kids were just used to more flavorful veggies.


Related: Where You Can Order Groceries Online With an EBT Card

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Forced Creativity and Trying New Things

If anything, whether you are able to make your own choices during the shopping window or not, you might just have to get more creative in the kitchen than you would if you'd carefully chosen everything yourself from the supermarket. For instance, in order to make enough roasted veggies to feed my whole family, I had to combine a few different types of vegetables, including beets, which at some point in my life I'd decided I hated. Turns out I don't hate beets that much. One of my Imperfect Foods orders included two different types of squash, which I rarely cook. I roasted both for one dinner, and they were delicious, so I know I'll be cooking with more squash in the future. 


Related: 25 Easy Recipes for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Imperfect Foods Delivery Box
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Customer Service

I didn't have many issues with either company, so I didn't get a lot of interaction with each company's customer service, but Imperfect Foods had some nice touches that I'll mention here because they seem to go the extra mile. For example, my first Imperfect Foods order had to be delayed by a week, and the company sent a thoughtful email including a line about keeping "future 180s limited to skateboarding." When I got the order the next week, there was a sweetly-worded postcard as well as a small bouquet of Gerbera daisies that I didn't order. Finally, when I canceled both services recently — due to a refrigerator issue and not because of my satisfaction with either company — someone from Imperfect reached out to me to find out what they might have done wrong. These are nice touches.  


Related: 17 Ways Grocery Stores Have Changed Over the Past 50 Years

Imperfect Foods Packaging
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Packaging

Almost everything that each company uses in its boxes (including the boxes themselves) is compostable. I would probably give the slight edge to Misfits Market here because Imperfect Foods sometimes includes one of those silver bubble thermal envelopes for items. Although technically recyclable, it just didn't always seem like it was necessary (the company has since announced that they will collect and recycle the silver insulated liners, along with freezer gel packs). Also, while both companies use around the same size box, Misfits Market's shipments usually made better use of that space, while one shipment I got from Imperfect Foods could have likely been shipped in a box about half the size or smaller. 


Related: Which Fruits and Veggies Go Bad the Quickest and Which Last the Longest?

Misfits Market Produce
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The Verdict?

If I'm being honest, I kind of fell in love with both companies. If I absolutely had to choose between them, I'd probably go with Misfits Market because it will auto-skip a delivery if I don't get around to choosing my order during the shopping window, and sells organic-only produce. But the choice between the two really comes down to personal preference and which company's policies and selection fit your household and lifestyle best. You really can't go wrong with either if you don't mind a little less than classically beautiful produce in your life. 

Hungry Harvest
Hungry Harvest

One More Option: Hungry Harvest

Finally, there is at least one other company offering a service similar to Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market: Hungry Harvest. I couldn't review them because they don't deliver to my area, but they do offer service in parts of Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan. You can find out if they deliver to you here, and check out the details of the company's policies and service on its FAQ page.


Related: The Grocery Waste Chain: What Happens To Items That Don't Sell?