Before I go on, I must stress that Imperfect Produce is NOT paying me to say any of this, nor rewarding me for writing this. At the end, if I've convinced you and you decide to sign up, you're free to use my referral link and I'll get a discount off of my next order...but you don't have to!
Okay, back to ImPro, as it abbreviates itself. The idea of the company is simply that too much perfectly good produce (both conventional and organic) is going to waste just because it doesn't meet the visual standards of most grocery stores. The produce ImPro sends your way is either too small or too big, too misshapen, or too blemished to sell well at your local grocer. ImPro advertises that they sell for 30-50% less than what you'd pay in store.
So, does this mean that the product is 30-50% worse than what you'd buy normally? Not in my experience! I was wondering if they'd send the kind of thing I get from my food sharing network: a box of strawberries that's about 1/3 moldy and 2/3 good. Certainly not ImPro's way of doing things. Everything has been fresh and delicious. In fact--if anything--it's really opened my eyes to the ridiculous standards that grocery stores must have about "what the public demands." Either that, or the public really has become far too picky. The produce which I receive once a week looks just fine and tastes great.
Here are some pros listed in bullet form:
- You customize your box in three ways: type, general size, and what's included. You can choose from All Veg, All Fruit, Mixed Veg and Fruit, or All Organic. As for size of box, you can choose from S, M, L, XL. And then each week you have a briefish (36-48 hrs) window of time to select from their list of what's available to go into your box. Don't like persimmons? Take them out. Want 3 lbs of potatoes instead of 1? You can do that.
- It's not hard at all to change the size or type of box. Just log in and change. Experimenting seems to be encouraged.
- My family of 5 table food eaters gets a Medium box each week, although I might switch to Small. Alas, my kids are not big veg eaters.
- The boxes aren't priced by a flat rate. You choose a size, which provides a range of how much is available (for example, I don't think I can order 20 lbs of potatoes in a Medium box), but the price is determined by what exact produce is inside. This week, the things I chose only came to $9, but since I usually forget to customize my box, it is about $15 a week.
- On that note of cost, it is possible to qualify for reduced rates based on income, which we do. If you qualify (and I believe they use California's financial benchmarks to decide), you receive a 33% discount. Pretty awesome!
- Produce in Portland is delivered on Wednesdays, and you select a window of time during the day you'd like to receive your box. You can either choose a morning/afternoon slot or an afternoon/evening slot. Thet send you a text when the delivery is close to arriving and a text when it's been delivered. You specify the exact location and they put it there (i.e doorstep, behind the gate, porch, etc.)
- No excess packaging. The only thing I've seen come in a plastic bag was a bunch of radishes. Otherwise, everything is just jumbled in your cardboard box together. Personally, I like that. No wasted plastic to speak of, and you can recycle the box, or even reuse it for your own purposes, as it's nice and sturdy.
- In-season produce is perhaps better represented in availability but you'll still find things right now (late fall) like tomatoes, kiwi, etc. I guess this could be a con but I like seasonal eating.
- Each week they provide a nice recipe card suggesting uses for some item(s) of their produce. I LOVE that feature! So cool!
Are there any cons? I had to think hard and this is all I could come up with:
- The delivery windows of time span about 7 hours, which means that the evening one runs from 3pm-11pm. It's really all over the map when you'll get your box. You don't have the same delivery person every time; it's kind of Uber-esque in that it's regular folks in their cars. One time I did get slightly freaked out by a 10:45 pm delivery opening our gate, but the texts before and after helps.
- I wish they would send a text reminding you that you only have 6 more hours (or 12) to customize your box, since the customization window is on the shorter side. They DO send an email reminder but for a forgetter like me, an additional text would be nice.
- If you eat lettuce based salads every day, you'll probably still have to go buy enough lettuce from the store; it doesn't seem to be offered as frequently.
- It's not available widely throughout the country. If you don't live in one of the 6 places I listed in the first sentence, you're out of luck...at least, so far.
Anyway, I'd give it an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up. I've had a very precipitous drop-off in buying produce from regular stores, and we've been doing this for 7-8 weeks or so. I think it's definitely worth looking into if you live in an area.
If you do decide to try it out, if you use this link, YOU will get a $10 credit and I will too! It's a win-win!