Tackling Food Waste, One Juice at a Time

This post was written by Phillip Wong, Co-founder of MISFIT Juicery

photo of bruised, asymmetrical, overly ripe fruits and veggies on a white background

Much like the weird kids in high school who played Dungeons and Dragons during lunch, people working in food nerd out over packaging. For anyone not in the industry, it can be easy to trivialize the things that we agonize over: do I use matte- or gloss-finished labels? Should my bottles have square or round bottoms?

Yet packaging gets attention for good reason. Appearances matter. The food we make is important, but so are the containers we dress them up in. Consumers have thousands of options and little time to choose between them. And samplings aside, we can’t nibble on an apple or crack open a can of sauce before sticking it in our cart.

At MISFIT, we think about appearances a lot. We make cold-pressed juice from fruits + veggies that are different sizes, shapes, and colors from what retailers will buy. (Behold, fodder for Instagram: crooked carrots, surplus strawberriesapples outlandishly large and laughably small.) So appearances matter here, too, but why? Good looks and good taste don’t always line up.

We should care about this disconnect because 20 billion pounds of fruits + veggies go unharvested or unsold every year in the U.S., and much of that waste is driven by cosmetic standards. Food waste has massive environmental and economic consequences: we lose $218 billion every year and 21% of our freshwater usage goes toward uneaten food.

founders of MISFIT juicery

After learning about the crazy scale of food waste in the U.S., we started MISFIT in my college kitchen—much to the dismay of my housemates. We snagged four crates of ugly peaches from our campus farmer’s market, borrowed a juicer and got to work with a handful of our friends.

Since that day two years ago, we’ve laid the groundwork for a juice empire in DC. We launched in NY with the Northeast’s leading produce distributor, and are now hiring for a full-time NYC Market Manager to lead the charge in sales.

MISFIT Juicery juices on display

We also just launched an exclusive orange juice that's better for you + the planet in 10 of Dig Inn's restaurants. Check out the juice there or at some of our other retail partners like Eataly and Forager's. You can read us musing on our disconnect with our food here.

For the past five months, we’ve been on the rocket ship that is the Chobani Food Incubator. We’ve seen what it takes to make awesome yogurt (read: a lot of milk!) and find the perfect cup to house that yogurt. Just like the farmer who gave us our first peaches and my housemates who tolerated us, the Incubator has been an incredible community and has ushered us through a critical time in our business.

We’re soon off to Expo West, the authoritative trade show in the natural food industry, and appearances definitely matter there—we’re excited to shake things up with our badass Chobani friends by our side.

Learn more about MISFIT at http://misfitjuicery.co/

If you want to nerd out on food waste, produce, cold chain logistics, feel free to reach out to Phil and Ann at phil@misfitjuicery.co and ann@misfitjuicery.co directly!

tracy castro