Would you buy and eat ugly vegetables? I am and they're delicious. Read about two of my favorite discoveries from a recent Los Angeles food festival.
On the weekends, I always try to find a food-related activity to attend. It's a fantastic way for me to try new products, experience new restaurants, attend events and meet new people involved in the food world. Thanks to my Eventbrite app, I can stay on top of local food events. A few weeks ago, I attended the California Vegetarian Food Festival in Los Angeles. Sponsored by the U.S. Veg Corp, the festival focuses on those interested in a vegetarian and eco-friendly lifestyle. The Vegetarian Food Festivals are also in NYC and Arizona. The event founders are focused on addressing current issues concerning the vegetarian market and technologies in the vegetarian marketplace.
I make an effort to have all-vegetarian days a few times a week. In all honesty, I'm not ready to give up fish, chicken and the occasional lamb chop. Maybe I'll get there one day.
The festival vendors displayed food and beverage products, food trucks, skin care lines, apparel and more. I'm always on the hunt for something new and two things caught my attention at the festival. A snack product and a produce delivery service.
HIPPEAS -Organic Chickpea Puffs
I have fond childhood memories of devouring a bag of cheese puffs as an afterschool snack. Obviously, those cheese puffs weren't the most nutritious thing for me to eat. I think my mother was more concerned about me leaving orange fingerprints on the furniture and walls than my snack's nutritional value. I enjoyed the crunchiness of the puffs more than the fake orange cheese.
I'm a salty-crunchy person. When I spotted vendors at the Hippeas booth handing out samples at the festival darted over and grabbed a bag. As I walked to my car, I busted the bag open then read the label. “Vegan white cheddar chickpea puffs? Ok, at least they look crunchy.” I was hungry, so I gave it a try. By the time I got to my car, I had eaten half the bag (it was a small bag). Happily, I found a new snack that day to satisfy my salty-crunchy habit. The chickpea puffs come in four flavors – Far Out Fajita, Sriracha Sunshine, Pepper Power and Vegan White Cheddar. I'll be trying these three flavors soon.
IMPERFECT PRODUCE – An Ugly Produce Delivery Service
When I walked by a booth that had vegetables with wiggle eyes staring at me, I had to stop. I listened to a young man explaining why I should be interested in eating ‘ugly' produce and purchasing a delivery subscription to do so. It didn't take me long understand why I should sign up. Supermarkets have conditioned us to buy beautiful fruits and vegetables. Walk through most supermarkets and the produce is always in pristine condition. No odd shapes, blemishes, bumps, lumps or bruises. I've been seduced by produce perfection countless times. It's beautiful to look at. As consumers, we've been trained to only desire perfect produce.
Because of supermarket's high standards, they reject more than 20% of the fruits and vegetables offered to them from American farms. Fruits and vegetables that are perfectly good to eat, just a little funny looking. Those rejects result in billions of pounds of produce being wasted each year. Billions of pounds a year!!! Let that sink in for a minute.
Imperfect Produce rescues these unwanted fruits and vegetables and delivers them to customers that don't care if their produce is perfect. Everything is seasonal and sourced directly from farms. You can customize your box, based on what produce is available. Since it's subscription-based, you can decide how often you want to receive an order. You can request the desired amount of produce and the day it will be delivered. I chose a bi-weekly delivery.
When I received my box, everything looked good. There were a few odd shapes and the size of some of the produce may have been smaller than you would see in the supermarket. I worked my way through the box and everything was fresh and delicious. It was enjoyable putting together recipes based on what was in my box.
I love what this company is doing. Their mission is powerful and purposeful. Imperfect Produce is helping to fight food waste and putting money into the pockets of farmers whose ‘ugly' produce would be discarded. Customers pay 30 – 50% less for the produce. But there are even bigger benefits for everyone. (The following list is directly from the Imperfect Produce website):
- By eating Imperfect, you’re helping build a more sustainable and effective food system in the most delicious way imaginable.
- You’re helping fight food waste.
- You’re ensuring farmers are rewarded for their full harvest and can feed more people with less wasted land, fossil fuels, and water.
- You’re improving access to healthy food.
- You’re creating fulfilling careers for employees.
- With every bite into a misshapen apple or crooked carrot, you’re helping shape our world for the better.
I'm sold, what about you?
*Note: The companies and products I wrote about in this post are based on my experience and opinion. They are NOT sponsored posts.