ABC’s popular show Shark Tank made a deal worth noting with a young man determined to help solve two problems with one innovative idea.
Evan Lutz, CEO and cofounder of Hungry Harvest, starts his pitch with a familiar scene: “When you’re walking down the grocery store aisle and you see all the apples lined up all shiny, perfect, same size, same color, same shape – you might wonder: how on earth do they grow the exact same way?” He goes on to drop the truth: “The fact is, they didn’t.”
Aimed at reducing food waste and food insecurity in the US, Hungry Harvest does so by embracing the “ugly” produce that gets turned away by supermarkets.
Fruits and vegetables that don’t look the part aren’t purchased by big supermarkets or local vendors, thus doomed to the fate of rotting in landfills where they go on to produce methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Lutz and his company have made it their mission to purchase this “ugly” produce at a discounted rate, package it in three sizes, and hand deliver it do subscribers for a low price. Prices for the standard recovered harvests run $15 a week for the smallest haul to $35 for the largest. Other packages are available as well, like organic harvests and all fruit harvests.
According to the USDA, food waste occupies the majority of space in municipal landfills in the US. This is food that is perfectly nutritious and delicious, but gets wasted due to superficial imperfections and mismanagement.
Since its beginning in 2014, Hungry Harvest has diverted over 300,000 pounds of produce from landfills and 100,000 pounds of that has been distributed to local households in need. With every bag of produce they deliver, the company donates a meal to a family in need.
Currently the company has about 500 subscribers in their service area centered around Baltimore and Washington DC, but they expect to double due to the publicity from being featured on Shark Tank. They plan to expand to more metropolitan areas (like NYC, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Richmond) in the near future as well, thanks to “Shark” Robert Herjavec, who invested $100,000 in the company in exchange for 10 percent equity.
In a world so superficial and focused on looks, sometimes even our food falls short. It’s important to remember the old saying: “it’s what’s on the inside that really counts.”