Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Perfectly Imperfect complements other forms of food recovery using a Win/Win/Win
Like many, my first knowledge of Perfectly Imperfect was through a Facebook page, which my wife pointed out to me. I had been looking for work that might make a positive contribution to redressing the social issues we see currently. Once I had read the website I felt very clearly that this enterprise made sense and that I wanted to be part of it.
The things that convinced me were:
Perfectly Imperfect complements other forms of food recovery using a Win/Win/Win – consumer pays much less/farmer gets some return on extra product/revenue helps more people in need.
It relies on a semi commercial model where people can pay what they are able as a Koha but shop with dignity.
It presents farmers with another different option for selling some more of their crop before it becomes unusable, but doesn’t compete with other food rescue.
It puts more (seasonally appropriate) food in play which at scale could positively affect pricing and consumers’ willingness to buy local and try new foods.
It has almost unlimited potential to grow with the help of more participants.
What I found
Once I began helping at the Owairaka store I quickly saw that my fifty plus years of home vegetable gardening helped me to give shoppers confidence that a vegetable that didn’t look like a supermarket one, was actually as good or even better. I also cook a lot so it is easy for me to suggest easy ways to use a new crop.
If I didn’t know a vegetable (e.g. kohlrabi) I took it home, Googled recipes and tried it myself. You can’t sell what you don’t believe in. I have also found a use for my sales skills advocating for kale or swedes or parsnips or Bok choi that most people are unsure of.
What I have learned
I quite quickly realised that there is no one sort of need amongst those who visit our store. Some are struggling a lot with budget, I think and others just enjoy a good opportunity to pay less for a great bag of food and know that the Koha they give is helping someone else. Some even buy no food or only a few items but pay for a bag because they believe in what we are doing. When I see children come to the store I realise we are reminding people of their own food stories and that food comes first from the ground around us not from a wharf.
What I hope
I hope that as I ask each person as they are leaving to tell a friend and so as more people know of us, we get more stores and more mystery boxes sold and that we become a real alternative for finding good fresh local food while helping someone else.