"Ugly" produce: Hy-Vee combating food waste - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Ugly" produce: Hy-Vee combating food waste

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(KWWL) -

Hy-Vee has started selling their line of "ugly" produce in order to combat food waste. The "misfits" line contains fruits and vegetables that would traditionally go unsold due to the industry’s size and shape standard, but are cheaper and just as nutritious as the perfect produce.

Hy-Vee has partnered with produce company Robinson Fresh in order to launch this initiative. 

The all-too familiar saying of "Don't judge a book by its cover," holds true for this line of produce. After seeing tons of good quality produce just go to waste, Hy-Vee decided to do something about it.

The Hy-Vee located on University Ave. in Waterloo has already started selling the "misfits" produce. 

"Over six billion pounds of produce alone goes to waste every year of unwanted fruits from the markets and unharvested fruits and vegetables from the fields because they don't have the market to go to," said Hy-Vee assistant manager Benjamin Deutmeyer. 

Like most, shoppers usually look for the perfect piece of fruit. However, Deutmeyer says although these many not look pretty, they're just as nutritious. 

"The misfits fruit and vegetables are perfect in a way," said Deutmeyer. "They taste the same. Have the same high quality that you're used to getting from everyday normal looking fruit."

Not only are the misfits produce just as good, but they're also cheaper. Through the program, four to six Misfit items are delivered weekly, based on what is seasonally available, and are sold on average at a 30 percent discount. Some of the line’s items include peppers, cucumbers, squash, apples and tomatoes.

Customers who learned of the new produce section, took a liking to the idea. Hy-Vee shopper Nancy Kemp put down her perfect peppers and picked up a bag of misfits peppers. 

"Because it's cheaper than these, and they look just as nice," said Kemp. 

Shoppers who grow their own gardens, know the misconception all too well. 

"Oh they're everything from half-rotten to perfect, and anywhere in between," said Fischels. "You just use what's good and make sauce out of the ones that aren't perfect."

Making use of what is still good, and taking steps to make sure what is not is not just negligently thrown away. 

Hy-Vee says this is just one of the many ways the grocery chain has taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

"Whether it's taking fruit that's close to its expiration date and use it in one of our fresh dishes," said Deutmeyer. "Or we have a green are you bin which allows us to put old and rotten fruit in a compost bin to compost and turn into soil to help grow things. Just little things like that, and donating to the food bank as well."

Misfits produce is currently available in almost all of the more than 240 Hy-Vee grocery stores across eight Midwestern states. Produce items will vary week to week based on their availability; some of the current product being carried includes mandarin oranges, green and red peppers, limes and lemons. 

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