A couple years ago, a Facebook friend posted an article on Imperfect Produce, a new start up in the Bay Area, with the mission to reduce food waste. It pains me to see food thrown away, especially perfectly good food; but I’m embarrassed to admit that as much of a foodie as I had proclaimed myself to be, I knew next to nothing about the issue of food waste.
In the United States, especially here in Los Angeles, we’re accustomed to the abundance of produce available year-round. It’s no coincidence that grocery stores sell mountains of picture-perfect fruits and vegetables. Most stores are strict about the size, shape, and color of what they will buy. If you’ve ever grown your own food, you’ll know that uniform and blemish-free apples, oranges, plums, pears, tomatoes, and other home-grown food are not the norm. When farmers’ crops are not up to grocery store standards or when they have a surplus on hand due to unusual weather, they must find other ways to sell or preserve their crops or they will be discarded. Millions of pounds of food and gallons of water are wasted as a result of this.
Imperfect Produce partners with local farmers to deliver this “imperfect” product directly to consumers. Farmers get to sell their produce that would have otherwise been thrown away, saving food, water, and even reducing CO2 emissions. We consumers get to save 30-50% on produce that’s often more fresh and every bit as delicious and nutritious as what we buy from the store.
Imperfect Produce expanded to the Los Angeles area several months ago, and I’ve been happily subscribed ever since. I pay $15-$20 every other week for a small box of mixed conventional fruit and vegetables. (They also have organic options if that’s what you prefer)
So what do I think of it? A majority of the produce I’ve received looks so much like what I would find in stores, I often wonder what about them is “imperfect.” Some are shaped a little funny or have minor blemishes and scarring. All of it has been delicious!
I feel even better knowing that through this service, I’m helping to consume food that otherwise would have gone to waste.
So far I have saved 8o pounds of produce, 456 gallons of water, and prevented 272 pounds of CO2 from going into the air.
If you live in Los Angeles or near San Francisco I encourage you to try it! Imperfect Produce also works to educate the consumer about other food waste- you can follow them on Instagram to learn more.
I have not been paid or asked to write about this service- I just found it to be a really great subscription and a good cause!
I’ve used a few imperfect ingredients in past recipes, but this one features imperfect plums. The plums had some minor blemishes and scarring, but were just as sweet as any other plums I had bought from the store. I might have been watching a too much of The Great British Baking Show, but I was inspired to bake them into a plum cake! Fruit cakes are pretty easy to bake and a plum cake would really showcase the bright red juice centers of these plums.
They look perfect to me!
While baking, the cake rises above the plums, creating little pockets of tart jam. This keeps your cake from getting dry and adds delicious sweet flavor without any additional effort. Just look at that glistening center! This batter also gets almost crusty at the edges thanks to a little lemon, cinnamon, and sugar.
Fresh Plum Cake
- 3-4 plums, pitted and cut into slices
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ground cinnamon to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until its a light yellow color and fluffy. Add eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.
With a spatula, mix in the dry ingredients with the wet mixture. until full incorporated with no lumps. It will be a fairly heavy batter.
Spoon mixture into a cake pan or spring-form pan. I lined mine with parchment paper, but I think with the amount of butter in the cake, it probably would be fine without lining or greasing in a normal pan. Smooth the top of the batter, so it’s evenly distributed.
Cover the top of the batter evenly with sliced plums. Keep in mind the batter will rise above the slices. If they are narrow with the middles facing downward, they will be submerged in the cake, while the ones laid wide and flat will show a little more.
Mix the lemon and tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl and pour evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle ground cinnamon over to finish.
Bake in the oven 45-50 minutes. It should be golden brown, and a toothpick taken from the center should come out clean.
Slice and enjoy with whipped cream, ice cream, or on its own with coffee or tea!