It seems like out-of-the-ordinary produce is having its day in the sunshine. Long gone are the days when perfectly red, round (and often tasteless) tomatoes are the only options. Even here in the middle of Cleveland winters, we get heirlooms in different shapes and sizes. And for the first time this past Halloween, I saw Cinderella pumpkins and carnival squash. It made for some interesting Jack-o-Lantern options and some tasty side dishes.

And there are lots of other options on the shelves as North Americans whet their appetite for new types of foods. Options like tomatillos, habanero peppers, bitter melon and garlic scapes are becoming more mainstream to fit changing palates. Just take a look at a few popular recipe websites or social media channels and you’ll see influences from all over the world in recipes that call for ingredients your grandparents would never have been able to find.

You may have also heard of the ugly food movement. In fact, there’s a whole produce delivery company that has been making a lot of noise on social media lately. Imperfect Produce is making a name for itself by offering subscription boxes of different foods most grocery stores wouldn’t carry. Some are nearing their expiration dates; some are oddly shaped and some are just surplus.

Their branding really speaks to the Millennial generation that’s looking for ways to reduce waste (and their carbon footprints) by showcasing their mission to reduce waste. And by showcasing farmers they’re helping and the meals they’re donating, they’re appealing to the younger generation’s social conscience.

As out-of-the-ordinary and imperfect produce challenge the way North Americans look at their fruits and veggies, it could also open up some new marketing campaigns for your business. The unique is a little less scary than it used to be.

Kate Spirgen, Editor | kspirgen@gie.net | 216-393-0277