Gotham Greens Wants to Sell You Ugly Lettuce

You can find these bags at the Park Slope Co-op as well as select Whole Foods and Key Foods stores.

Photo courtesy of Gotham Greens.

The ugly greens have been so popular that Whole Foods, which also sells ugly produce, began selling them throughout their Northeast stores. Photo courtesy of Gotham Greens.

Gotham Greens wants you to buy slightly blemished but still fresh leafy greens. It started with harvest meals but has become a way for the company to draw attention to the issue of food waste.

Labeled as “Ugly Greens (Are Beautiful)” the lettuce, arugula and other leafy greens come from the urban farm’s greenhouses in Brooklyn and Queens and are available at rates of up to 40 percent off.

When the Gotham Greens team harvests leafy greens from their greenhouses they occasionally find greens with a bit of bruising or damage from pests but the greens are still edible.

“We started putting them aside and we’d enjoy them them as part of a team meal,” marketing and partnerships manager Nicole Baum said. “But we realized there was an opportunity to use them to reduce waste and bring attention to the issue of food waste.”

gotham greens

When the Gotham Greens team harvests leafy greens from their greenhouses they occasionally find greens with a bit of bruising or damage from pests but the greens are still edible. Photo courtesy of Gotham Greens.

This past summer, instead of eating the ugly greens themselves, Gotham Greens began selling them at the Williamsburg Whole Foods, the Park Slope Food Cooperative and select Key Foods. The ugly greens have been so popular that Whole Foods, which also sells ugly produce, began selling them throughout their Northeast stores.

While Baum said it’s a small amount of product that ends up being ugly greens it keeps the lettuce from being composted.

During the colder months nearly 90 percent of the United States’s lettuce comes California and Arizona, meaning it’s about a week old by the time it gets to many of us and much of it goes to waste before getting on shelves. As that food decomposes it releases methane gas contributing to global warming.

“By growing locally we reduce food waste and we sell what we harvest within 24 hours,” Baum said.

Gotham Greens is hoping to soon expand the program to Chicago where they also have a greenhouse.

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Bridget is the digital strategy editor for Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Long Island and Edible East End.