The Ethics of Purchasing “Ugly” Produce Might Be Uglier Than You Think

The ongoing issue of food waste and sustainability has recently been emphasized by companies championing the underdog: brands like Hungry Harvest, Misfits Market, and Imperfect Produce specialize in purchasing “ugly” produce and shipping it to your doorstep via a subscription service.

These services, promising ethical consumption under capitalism by soothing the conscience of those who seek the moral high road when it comes to food, have recently come under public fire for their ineffectiveness. By marketing “ugly” fruits and vegetables as desirable, local coops and vegetable producers have taken a significant hit.

Imperfect produce recently admitted to working with Big Ag corporations like Dole, a major contributor to the problem of food waste, which distinctly misaligns with their brand promise. They also divert “ugly” produce from people in need who are unable to afford regularly-priced produce.

While venture capital may be able to feed some people for now, the American food system as a whole must be dismantled and restructured in order to recalibrate the ethics of produce.

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