Misfits Market is an online service that delivers organic produce directly to your door.
"Almost half of all produce harvested in the United States is never eaten. Fruits and vegetables go unpicked in fields or get thrown away at the store, simply because they don’t look good."
"Every box of Misfits produce you order benefits farmers, helps prevent food waste, and ultimately helps save our environment. Our rapidly expanding Philadelphia- and New Jersey-based operation rescues produce from regional farms and distributes it throughout the Northeast in three business days or less."
These are direct quotes from the Misfits Market website. When I signed up for this service, it sounded great. Organic produce delivered straight to my door, costing less than non-organic produce at my local supermarket, and it benefits local farmers? It sounded great! I wasn't really concerned about how the produce looked, it was all going to get cooked or eaten anyway.
I signed up for the "mischief box," which was 10-12 pounds of organic produce weekly. My first box arrived within two days of placing my order. I was super excited, and it was loaded with all kinds of stuff. I was expecting mostly veggies but was surprised to find a bunch of fruit as well (though I was a bit disappointed to see that the fruit was almost all red delicious apples, which I don't love).
After a few weeks of receiving similar boxes—lots of the same vegetables and a ton of red delicious apples, I started noticing the labels on the produce. The vast majority of it was grown in Mexico, which was shocking to me, since the website said the produce was grown on regional farms and supports local farmers to reduce food waste in America. I live in New York, so Mexico isn't exactly a neighboring area.
I understand that avocados may come from Mexico, but when I contacted customer service, the response I got was that "unless you want a box full of root vegetables, we have to source our produce from outside of the United States, especially in the winter." Okay, I guess, but the root vegetables in my box also came from Mexico (see photos below), and this was in May, which isn't considered winter in the Northern hemisphere.
It was also around this time that I started noticing that the produce in my boxes was also arriving badly bruised (to the point where it was inedible), rotting or actually rotten, or sprouting. I always have potatoes in the house, and I understand that organic produce may go bad quicker, but to have a box full of potatoes sprout and be mushy by the time they arrive or within days of arrival, to have carrots be soft and mushy on the day they arrive, and to have three-quarters of the produce be inedible by the time it arrives on my doorstep seemed unacceptable to me, and like even more of a waste.
If you have an allergy to a specific type of produce, you may want to rethink a subscription to Misfits Market. When I explained that I have an allergy to a specific item, the response from customer service was:
"We will note your allergy in your account to restrict it from being packed into your box. Our team will make every effort to accommodate your allergy. However at this time we are not able to guarantee that this item or item(s) will never make it into one of your orders."
Of course, that specific item made it into nearly every one of my orders, and when I complained about it and the waste it was causing, their solution was to "give it to someone else." So they didn't see any issue with me paying for a subscription box that continually had items that they knew I was allergic to and couldn't use, and the best resolution they could come up to was to just give them to someone else. The whole basis for using Misfits Market was to save money and reduce waste, but I found myself throwing money into the garbage week after week.
Although the boxes came packed full of biodegradable packaging, the produce still arrived so bruised that it was mushy to the point of being unappealing and inedible, far past the point of being just ugly, as shown in the box contents above. The pears were so deeply bruised that they were just mush. The peppers and the zucchini were somehow sliced, which I don't think happened during the delivery process. The slicing couldn't have happened when I opened the box, since they were way at the bottom under layers of brown paper packaging, and they were so dried out I couldn't even use them to cook with. The leeks had actually been broken as well. I complained about this box, and received a replacement box that was actually worse than this one.
In the photo above, you see the contents of the replacement box on the day I received it. The green peppers arrived split open. The insides are dried out, and the peppers themselves were unusable. The purple item in the center was at some point a regular, orange carrot, but when I opened the box it was slimy, soft, and rotten. One half of the onion was dissolving. While I don't personally eat onions, my family always had them around when I was growing up and it took months for them to rot like this. The spaghetti squash was dried out and inedible when I cut it open, and the fruit was so overripe I couldn't eat it. I ended up having to use gloves to even touch this stuff to throw it out. The kale was on my list as an allergen, but they continued sending it to me every single week. The shishito peppers were in pretty good condition, although some were a little soft. I looked up recipes that assured me they're supposed to be mild with an occasional hot one in the bunch—every single one was like eating a jalapeño.
The worst part is that this was the replacement box I received just days after complaining about the condition of a box I had received earlier in the week. I've worked in customer service in the past, and whenever a customer has complained, I've always made sure that any replacement has been perfect. This box was even worse than the one I had complained about earlier in the week! This was the box that broke the camel's back and had me cancel my subscription.
A few days after cancelling my subscription, I had decided to make a dinner using potatoes. I knew I had plenty of potatoes, since each box always had plenty of potatoes included. When I looked at the two weeks' worth of potatoes I had, this is what I found. Every single one (some were received just three days earlier) was sprouting alarmingly, and many were so mushy they seemed to be dissolving. Once again I had to glove up to put these in the trash.
If you haven't tried Misfits Market, I'd strongly suggest that you don't. The quality was poor, and while the idea was good, they weren't able to put it into practice. I don't mind buying produce that comes from Mexico, but I do mind getting produce from Mexico when it's billed as coming from local farms. The kind I get at my local supermarket doesn't rot before it enters my house and usually lasts at least a week. Plus, the customer service at Misfits Market was atrocious. My request to speak to a manager was never returned.
If you'd like to support local, organically grown farms, I'd suggest that you find a farmers market in your area, or a CSA to support real local people. There are other ugly produce delivery programs available, but unfortunately, none of them are available in my area at the present time. I'd love to hear about your experience with them.