Sustainability Infrastructure

What is “ugly food” and what does it have to do with climate change?

When you talk about “food waste,” you might think of expired milk and uneaten bread. But there is a long chain of steps that happen between the farm and your refrigerator, and more than 20 billion pounds of cosmetically imperfect or unharvested food are wasted each year in the United States, contributing to a sizable chunk of greenhouse gas emissions.

One innovative company called Full Harvest, based in San Francisco, is focusing on cosmetically imperfect food that ends up in landfills because grocery stores don’t think consumers will buy ugly fruit and vegetables. To date they have saved roughly 15 million pounds of produce from going to waste.

Full Harvest has created an online platform for farmers to sell their ugly and surplus food directly to businesses that don’t care what the produce looks like because they process it. Businesses like juice bars benefit from this service since they just stick their fruit into a blender, and Full Harvest provides them ingredients at a lower price point.

“At scale we can solve some of the largest problems facing humanity today,” says founder and CEO, Christine Moseley. “One is food waste, which is the number three contributor to climate change right now. And we want to eventually use our marketplace to send product that we don’t sell to food banks or food deserts to help marginalized communities have access to fresh food.”

Full Harvest is only a business to business platform, meaning they don’t sell directly to the consumer.

“The way that it works is that if you’re a buyer you can go on and purchase through our spot marketplace,” explains Moseley. “Or you could work with us on a contract for consistent supply. Separately, we innovate with growers to capture product that would have otherwise gone to waste in the field and then connect the end-to-end logistics while the purchase is happening over the platform.”

As more information about food waste becomes available, both companies and individuals are coming up with innovative ways to solve the problem.

Some video imagery courtesy of: Full Harvest

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