Imperfect food is perfect business model for Calif. company

EMERYVILLE, Calif. --When it's packing day at a company called Imperfect Produce, things that are particularly imperfect get special attention.

The weirdest are set aside for photographer Roopam Lunia. Her photos are posted online, building a social media following. It's a harvest of fame.

"These are the imperfect celebrities, and what we like to call them are the 'stars of the show,'" Lunia told CBS News.

These stars are part of an effort to convince food buyers that what counts is how something tastes, not how it looks.

"That little imperfection, retailers will reject it," said Ron Clark, a co-founder of Imperfect Produce. The company buys fruits and vegetables that farmers can't sell to supermarkets because it isn't perfect.

Every year farmers in America end up with about six billion pounds of food they can't sell. Much goes to food banks. Much more goes to the dump.

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Imperfect Produce workers keep an eye out for imperfect food
CBS News

"It's always amazed me on how much food is thrown away and I always had a soft spot of how to feed more people with less," said Clark.

Imperfect Produce has been in business for just four months. Already it sells more than 10,000 pounds a week to customers who pay about half the usual price for taking something unusual.

Turns out the old adage that beauty is only skin deep is equally true for a potato.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.