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Weckerly’s Ice Cream Teams Up With Imperfect Produce to “Beet” Food Waste
Food

Weckerly’s Ice Cream Teams Up With Imperfect Produce to “Beet” Food Waste

What if I told you that beet-flavored ice cream wasn’t just delicious, but also eating it could help reduce food waste and support public schools? 

Yeah, I wouldn’t believe me either. 

weckerly's ice cream fishtown Philadelphia
Photo by Margo Reed

But Weckerly’s Ice Cream is scooping out the proof. On June 26, the Fishtown “micro-creamery” partnered with Philly newcomer Imperfect Produce to launch Best Zest: beet ice cream swirled with orange zested sweet cream and scattered with sesame florentines. The first 25 customers that night scored some fuschia-colored scoops for free. 

A Sweet Partnership

Video by Margo Reed

While the Weckerly’s team imagined and created the unique flavor, Imperfect Produce, which opened a Philly branch in May, provided the ingredients. The San Francisco-based company buys “ugly” produce–fruits and veggies that retailers reject due to superficial flaws–from farmers and delivers them straight to customers’ doorsteps, at a price 30% lower than grocery stores’. The goal is to reduce food waste (which has a host of environmental consequences) and ensure farmers don’t have to sell their supply at a loss.

When the company reached out to Weckerly’s, co-owner Andy Satinsky says the collaboration was a no-brainer, especially since sustainability is already a key part of the shop’s operations. 

Weckerly's Andy Satinsky
Photo by Margo Reed

Weckerly’s sources the organic ingredients for its handmade ice cream from local farms and composts almost all of its waste, including serveware. 

Satinsky says the team was also thrilled with Imperfect Produce’s offer to dedicate a portion of funds to a nonprofit of its choice. 33 percent of all sales of Best Zest go to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.

“As a Philadelphia-based business and residents of Philadelphia, the more that this city can do to improve the education for all the students in the city, the better,” he says. 

Another big draw of the collaboration? It was a fun challenge. 

“Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like somebody giving you a set of parameters, and then asking you to create something within that,” Satinsky says. “So we were like, ‘Oh, this is cool. We get to build something off of somebody else’s ingredient list.’”

Satinsky says Weckerly’s has tried to launch a beet flavor in the past, but it never gained traction. When he saw beets on the list of Imperfect Produce’s available ingredients, he couldn’t resist giving it another shot. 

“Here’s our chance to take this ice cream that we really like but we don’t get to make and expand upon it with like some of the other produce that they’re offering, and then frame it around a really fun collaboration,” he says. 

Imperfect Produce Finds a Home in Philly 

Imperfect Produce Emily Carter
Photo by Margo Reed

Sustainably-minded businesses like Weckerly’s are exactly what drew Imperfect Produce to Philly, Emily Carter, the company’s PR, and partnerships manager, says.

“It just feels like people are really interested in these things,” she says. “They want to know where their food comes from. It seemed like a natural fit, given the city’s priorities and things people care about.”

“We’re just making sure that we’re not just a trendy millennial thing that only certain people have access to.”

Emily Carter, Imperfect Produce

Carter says the city’s passion for social impact, especially in addressing its 26% poverty rate, is another quality that Imperfect Produce and Philly share. The company has donated over 2.7 million pounds of its surplus produce food banks across the country, according to Carter, making food security a pillar of its mission. 

“We’re just making sure that we’re not just a trendy millennial thing that only certain people have access to,” she says. “We passionately believe that no one should be priced out of good food.”

But back to ice cream–why turn this ugly produce into a frozen treat, instead of just delivering it to customers?

“[We don’t sell] a box of rotten produce, and the best way to show that is a delicious scoop of ice cream to show that this is just as gorgeous and nutritious and delicious and can be used in all the ways ‘normal’ produce could,” Carter says.  

You can get your own scoop of Best Zest at Weckerly’s Ice Cream, located 9 West Girard Avenue, or sign up for produce deliveries at imperfectproduce.com.

Photos & video by Margo Reed

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Brianna Baker
Brianna is a Philly-based journalist and Baltimore native with a passion for reporting on urban sustainability and environmental justice. In her free time, she's an amateur vegetarian chef, Harry Potter trivia champion and occasional world traveler. View all posts by Brianna Baker

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