Ugly Produce: Buying Imperfect Fruits and Veggies Is a Beautiful Thing

UPDATE 12/21/2019: Sadly, Grower’s Organic has suspended their GOBOX program. The post that follows is historical information about the GOBOX program.

Over the last year I’ve been reading about “ugly” produce — fruits and veggies that are thrown out because they have funny shapes or slight imperfections. Why does this happen in the first place? Grocery stores are worried they don’t look cosmetically appealing enough for shoppers to buy. Seriously – perfectly good food getting thrown out just because it doesn’t match some ideal of what we think it should look like. Who even knew this was a thing, even here in Colorado?!

Luckily some of this thinking is changing and more opportunities to buy ugly produce are emerging thanks to some progressive stores and farmers. A lot of times these shunned fruits and veggies are sold at a discount (which saves money) and eliminates food waste (which saves the planet).

I was so excited when Grower’s Organic based here in Denver gave me the opportunity to try out their Pretty Ugly Box (PUB) GOBOX. The PUB is a box full of imperfect (but just as tasty) food, enough for 1-2 people for the week.

All’s you do is order your box by 12 noon on Thursday, then go pick up your box on Friday or Saturday straight from their warehouse headquarters. The PUB costs $17 with $1 of the proceeds donated to the Denver, non-profit We Don’t Waste. It’s kinda like a CSA, but you don’t need to subscribe to the full season – which means no food waste those weeks when you’ve gone skiing/hiking for several days!

It was a really easy process to pick up my box. You just head to the back of the warehouse, press a green button by the loading dock, which will make a shockingly loud sound, and then a nice and friendly person will open the door to let you into the warehouse. From there you pick up your box of goodies, and you’re done!

Grower's Organic Pretty Ugly box

My box featured some great stuff like avocados (no one cares what the outside of an avocado looks like!), pears, oranges, carrots, parsnip, butternut squash, onions, potatoes, and shallots. I’ve already used some of the fresh greens I got (green onions and spinach) to make a modified version of a NOLS camping cookbook favorite, Gado-gado. Stoked to find some new recipes to make use of the rest!

I will mention they do offer “normal” boxes with the small GOBOX costing $22 for the same amount of food you get in the PUB. However, you’re like me and you prefer to make less waste and save money while doing it, you get your healthy organic on by buying the ugly box and use that $5 you saved to treat yo self! (Ice cream cone anyone?)

Will you too give ugly food a chance?

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