“OMG Wendy! That is like the ugliest zucchini ever.” Ashley stared at the yellow-blotched boomerang her friend had just pulled from an earth-toned cardboard box.
Wendy set the squash down on the counter and peered into the box. She saw a couple of blemished beets, a compostable polylactic acid (PLA) bag of crooked carrots, and some sunburned lettuce. “Oh no, I brought the wrong box!!! My yoga class was so hard this morning. My brain isn’t working right. This was supposed to be the soup box.”
“Can we still make the meal we planned?” puzzled Ashley.
“Everyone will be here in like an hour and a half, and I’ll probably have to run back to my apartment,” said Wendy. “It’s so far away. I don’t see how I can be so disorganized. Everything will be late, we haven’t even read the kit instructions yet.”
“These food boxes all look so much alike,” said Ashley sympathetically. Her own boxes sat unopened on the counter. “I mean from here, you can’t even tell which of those is Deserts on Demand and which is Catch de Jour.”
“Yeah, but duh at least when you look closely, Catch de Jour has those little fish all over the box,” said Wendy.
“Flounders,” corrected Ashley, “little blue flounders.”
Wendy was tearing up a little. “But we spent all that time yesterday at work texting and planning this perfect home-cooked meal party. And I blew it.” She opened the second carton she’d toted into Ashley’s kitchen. “At least I’ve got the charcuterie plate from Locavore Treats,” she said, a little relieved. “Look, they even included a cute wood slab as a meat and cheese board.” She waved a live edge birch board in the air.
“And plating instructions with pictures? Isn’t it great how they slice everything — just like the deli and all separately wrapped? Don’t you just love this little mustard crock?” she asked holding up a small ceramic bottle, her mood improving as she dissembled the appetizers.
“What service did you use for the soup course you left at home?” asked Ashley.
“Aquadito to Zuppa Pavese?”
Ashley’s thumbs moved at blinding speed on her late-model smartphone. “We’re in luck, Aquadito to Zuppa Pavese has a lightning emergency rush service. My apartment is in the lightning zone. Literally, a half-hour delivery — Guaranteed. Wendy, you are soooo saved.”
Wendy deftly drew her own smartphone and in under a minute, she’d reordered the soup kit. “Perfect!!” Feeling much better, she emptied the remaining contents from Locavore Treats onto the counter.
After reading the Catch de Jour instructions, Ashley retrieved the required Calphalon pots, pans, and other cooking implements. She arranged the tools and kit contents on her kitchen table in accordance with the kit’s accompanying YouTube video. The video played on the smartphone propped on the table by the Calaphon Signature 8 qt. stock pot. Wendy’s phone was likewise buttressed by a Williams-Sonoma Elite multi-pot on the counter next to the packets of smoked meats. The two friends began assembling their respective courses.
The pecan crusted ahi steak was ready for the oven and the charcuterie was artfully plated. A buzzer announced the arrival of the Aquadito to Zuppa Pavese emergency delivery. Wendy took the elevator to the building’s entrance and retrieved the box. She unpacked it on her friend’s kitchen counter.
Perfectly Ugly Fruit
“Wendy, what was with that nasty looking zucchini you unpacked earlier?”
“So, that was my Perfectly Ugly Fruit share.”
“Perfectly Ugly Fruit?”
Wendy smoothed flat the instructions for Zesty Buffalo Corn-Potato Chowder. “Like, they say that literally $160 billion worth of produce is wasted worldwide every year?”
“I can’t even,” said Ashley. “Before food kits, which measured and cut everything I needed, I was afraid to go into my refrigerator. My crisper looked like a compost pile: no telling what lived in there. The produce looks so good at the farmer’s market, but like what do you do with it when you get it home? ”
“I guess that’s one kind of waste,” acknowledged Wendy. “What I’m talking about is all the produce that is plowed under or fed to livestock just because it doesn’t look perfect.”
“There are some mornings when I should probably be plowed under,” quipped Ashley. “I don’t think livestock would even want me.”
“Do you have a three-quart saute pan?” asked Wendy as she toiled her way through the chowder instructions.
Ashley was proud of her well-equipped kitchen and retrieved Le Creuset’s stainless steel version of the requested pan. “I’m still not following how you ended up with a box of deformed vegetables.”
Doing Her Part
“If people weren’t so fussy about what their food looked like, less food would be wasted. I subscribe to Perfectly Ugly Fruit to do my part to save the planet. If more people ate imperfect produce, there would be less waste.”
“I have friends who sign up for a box of produce delivered straight from the farm every week,” responded Ashley. “They get things they don’t know what to do with. Like, what can you do with fava beans or a Jerusalem artichoke? That weird stuff gets wasted all the time.”
“So, you have a lot more control with Perfectly Ugly Fruit. They have an app you can use to order only the fruit and veggies you want. Each week you get so many points. You can use those points however you want using the PUF app. If you don’t care, they’ll decide for you.”
“But Wendy, is the food safe? Man, that was one weird looking zucchini.”
“They don’t send anything that’s moldy, buggy, or rotten. Just a little deformed or discolored,” Wendy reassured her friend.
Ashley was well into fabricating a Chocolate Mousse. “It’s nice you’re able to make a little sacrifice in aesthetics and make a difference for the rest of the world. But it’s probably not for me. Malformed or not, any veggie in my fridge is doomed to get real ugly without kit instructions.”
Boxing Glove Potato – “A potato that looks like a boxing glove.” by Rob Swystun is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Charcuterie Plate” by rdpeyton is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Thanks to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for the title to this story. https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/