Meijer's "Misfits" line discounts fruits and vegetables that don't meet high cosmetic standards, but taste the same as any.

Charlie Heller
September 21, 2017

Fans of less "conventionally attractive" groceries can now buy the fruits and vegetables that fail to pass cosmetic standards at a discounted price, as part of Meijer's "Misfits" produce line. The Misfits, which the Michigan grocery store chain describes in a statement as "cosmetically-challenged" may be "discolored, scarred, or odd-sized" compared to the more classically beautiful counterparts on most store shelves, but they're just as edible, and taste the same.

Sold at a discount between 20 and 40 percent in store "Misfits bins," the produce is seasonably available and so far has included apples, bell peppers, lemons, limes, and sweet potatoes. The reasons the Misfits don't fit Western standards of produce beauty seem mainly to involve where the fruit or vegetable grew, with branches and shady spots impacting color and shape. What's important though, one Meijer executive says, is that "there is an inner beauty of this perfectly-imperfect produce."

Despite its name, the Misfits line is actually part of a growing push around the world to cut down on food waste, in part by embracing "ugly foods." Almost a billion people go hungry every day, even though the world grows more than enough food to feed everyone, in part because over 1.3 billion tons of it are lost or wasted annually, according to the United Nations. Since between a whopping 20 to 40 percent of perfectly edible food grown never reaches store shelves due to exacting cosmetic standards, putting "ugly foods" to use could have serious impact.

So far, U.K. politicians have encouraged supermarkets to relax rigid standards, which led British chain Asda to start selling discounted "wonky veg boxes," while in the U.S., startup Imperfect crowdfunded a plan to buy up rejected produce and sell it themselves. When it comes to waste though, the strongest model so far may be France, who last year made it illegal for stores to throw out food instead of donating it to local food banks. Could a law mandating more "ugly food" follow? It's certainly not what France is known for, but given how much deserving produce never gets a shot, it'd be worth the change in national image.