Buying ugly produce can keep cash in your pocket

Don’t judge a fruit by its cover! Fresh produce that’s ugly – with brown spots or other blemishes – is still the same on the inside as its pretty counterparts, but with a big difference: its price.

SWFL Produce brings fruits and vegetables from local farmers directly to you, but when produce is discolored, people don’t want it, so the company sells the outsiders at a discounted rate: $20 for 20 to 25 pounds.

MORE: How to double your budget for produce without spending more money

Who’s buying it

Brittany Devine eats vegan and says buying ugly keeps her grocery costs down. To her, it doesn’t matter what the item looks like.

“You’re just cooking it up and throwing it in a pot or a smoothie,” Devine said.

Devine said the produce is always in good shape with very little difference from the full-priced version.

“It was just minor things, like a beet would be a little bit smaller, have a little blemish,” Devine explained. “I feel a lot better knowing it’s not going to go into the trash at the end of the day.”

Lisa Bronchetti of north Cape Coral said avoiding the big-box stores saves her up to $15 on produce.

“That’s my life, budget,” Bronchetti said.

An added perk for her: Each box is a surprise.

“It’s almost like being on ‘Chopped.’ You open the box and then you’re like, ‘Oh, OK; here we go; awesome,” Bronchetti said.

Why they’re ‘ugly’

Elizabeth Coquillard, the owner of SWFL Produce, said items turn out differently because their farmers don’t use genetically modified organisms (GMOs). She says a little too much sun here or a little too much water there can alter the color or size of an item.

“This tomato only ripened on one side,” Coquillard showed us.

Marks on the outside don’t mean marks on the inside. Coquillard showed WINK News examples of how the ugly produce and full-priced produce looked the same on the inside.

SWFL Produce delivers from Venice to Marco Island for $5. Orders over $50 ship free. Orders can also be picked up at the Cape Coral Farmers Market. Families using SNAP or EBT benefits get half off their order through the Fresh Access Bucks program.

Misfits Market offers a similar service. The nationwide service sells 10- to 13-pound boxes for $22 and ships to South Fort Myers for $5.50.

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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