We buy romaine “hearts” at the grocery store because, well, they look pretty. What many of us don’t know is that the rest of the lettuce, the outer leaves, is perfectly edible, but is shaved off to create those visually appealing hearts, meaning more lettuce is left on the field than is sold at the supermarket.
One of the objectives of Full Harvest is to diminish this waste, along with the inefficiency in the supply chain, which ultimately leads to higher prices for consumers. Every year, 20 billion pounds of produce goes to waste because of cosmetic reasons, according to the EPA’s estimates, while 41 million people in the U.S. struggle with hunger. Full Harvest’s online tech platform—the winner of the food category in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards—aims to better connect buyers and sellers, allowing them to place and take orders for “rescued” fruit and vegetables that are “surplus” or “ugly.”
Full Harvest isn’t the only business rescuing the runts of the crop litters. Misfits Market delivers “ugly and imperfect produce” directly to consumers’ doors; so does Imperfect Foods (but uses the charmingly euphemistic “real food with character”). Full Harvest’s model is different; it’s a B2B company, with a tech platform that allows buyers—online retailers, cafes and juice bars, and sellers—farmers—to connect over the imperfect foods. The company, which launched operationally in January 2016, also aims to increase sustainability.
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