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Saving the Area’s Ugly Produce

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Photo by Alexandra Whitney Photography

Americans have a tendency to waste food—without even knowing they’re doing it—especially when it comes to produce. After all, nobody wants an ugly apple. According to Feeding America, nearly six billion pounds of off-grade produce—produce that doesn’t meet standards in part due to superficial reasons like being off-color, misshapen or blemished—are not harvested or thrown out each year. Hungry Harvest, which recently appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and soon to come to the Main Line, is looking to change that.

Saving ugly produce has been a trend of late. Just because produce doesn’t look perfect doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste great and provide the same nutritional value as its more-perfect looking counterparts. Hungry Harvest is working to save these fruits and vegetables and put them in the hands of consumers and keep them out landfills. The Maryland-based company, which also currently services Virginia and Washington, D.C., launched its program in the Philadelphia area on Jan. 31.

If the concept—and name—sound familiar, it might be because Hungry Harvest’s CEO and co-founder, Evan Lutz, appeared on ABC’s popular show Shark Tank last month and landed a deal with Robert Herjavek, who invested $100,000 in the start-up.

Hungry Harvest’s goal is for no food to be wasted. The company works with local farms and wholesalers to source “surplus” produce that otherwise would end up in dumpsters. Using a subscription model, the company packages produce into balanced variety boxes, starting for as little as $15 a week, and delivers them to subscribers’ doors or a pick-up location, year round.

Not only are they helping eliminate waste in landfills, the company is also giving back. For every box delivered, Hungry Harvest will donate a box to a hungry individual in need within the community. Hungry Harvest also plans to sponsor free farmers’ markets in underserved neighborhoods in the area. Since its inception, the company has recovered 300,000 pounds of food and donated 100,000 pounds.

For now, Hungry Harvest has planned pick-up locations in Ardmore and the University of Pennsylvania and a home delivery option in Center City. The organization hopes to expand pick-up locations and start a home delivery option on the Main Line in the near future.. Subscribers can choose a weekly or bi-weekly share, which can be stopped at any time.

For more information, visit Hungry Harvest’s website.

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