As has been made clear in my previous deep dives into DC’s startup scene, this city’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. While some towns fall into the trap of chains upon chains and big-boxed retailers, DC continues to foster the people who are forging their own way, chasing down visions, and bringing something new and exciting to the table. When I go searching for a startup to feature here, I am always restraining from biting my nails, or looking coyly at the Google search returns, half-afraid that finally, this search will be the one that leads to no end, I’ve run out of interesting startups with ties to this city. Time and time again though, a company finds its way onto my screen and easily proves me wrong. This time, it was Misfit Juicery.
Now, Misfit Juicery is not the only company unique to the district serving up juicy concoctions with health benefits and a hipster following. However, they do have an attribute that sets them apart: their cold-pressed juice is a combatant to food waste. Their name is a nod to their secret weapon, ugly, or “misfit” fruit. As explained on their website they’ve made it their mission to “stop food waste in its tracks. Our juices are made with ‘ugly’ produce that usually fills landfills because they don’t fit our grocery beauty ideals.”
Their website goes on to detail some wild facts about just how wasteful our food industry can be. Just to give you an inkling, here are a few of their bullet points:
- 1/3 of produce is tossed due to cosmetic issues (meaning that farmers lose that 1/3 of their harvest!)
- Supermarkets throw out around 40% of food due to overbuying and food spoilage
- $218 billion of purchased foods end up in the dump
- Food makes up 21% of our landfill volume, and emits methane, which is harmful on the planet’s atmosphere
Are you seeing the same opportunity this juicery has? Misfit was not formed with the plain and simple hopes of making good juice. No, their mark on the world is intended to go much further than that…they are aiming to be a viable solution to the unfortunate problem of food waste. Misfit’s founders, Ann Yang and Philip Wong, were first exposed to the realities of the country’s food waste problem while they were studying as undergraduates at Georgetown University. It was there they had a lightbulb moment. As quoted talking to VOGUE, Wong provides insight as to how they arrived at juice:
“ It made sense in a lot of ways – you don’t have the same visual biases with a bottle of juice as you do when you look as a whole fruit or vegetable. It’s also a much purer space than a lot of other categories, one where you can really stay true to the ingredients that you’re using.”
Today, the company sources ugly fruits and vegetables from farmers and produce distributors as well as collects trimming and scraps from big suppliers such as Baldor Specialty Foods, a company sourcing the majority of fresh foods for Whole Foods along the East Coast.
While Misfit has deep DC roots, the ultimate vision extends far beyond our city. Recently featured in Biz Journal, Yang explained a recent rebrand before products appeared on shelves at Whole Foods in the DC area and in five New York City stores. Yang commented:
“The vision for Misfit is to become Misfit food. We want to be the natural food brand in the country that represents food waste sourcing and sourcing from inefficiencies in the supply chain.”
You can find Misfit Juicery hidden in your favorite places through Washington, such as &pizza, Glen’s Garden Market, Bullfrog Bagels and Protein Bar, not to mention in other local haunts in kegs and on tap (!!!!).
Perhaps the misfits have found their place after all?