Our area has an impressive array of chefs and restaurateurs who come from every corner of the world to show off here in the Triangle. However, we’re incredibly lucky to have many of these culinary connoisseurs who hail from the Tar Heel State originally, too. This rotating series will feature food service establishments of every realm from restaurants, food trucks, food products, culinary services and beyond. We will include just enough information on these local foodie superstars to give you a “quick bite” that we hope will inspire you to go out and try their food for yourself. This time around, we’re featuring Courtney Bell, president and co-founder of Ungraded Produce.
Ungraded Produce is a produce delivery service here in the Triangle that delivers ugly and rescued produce for a discounted price. In the US, 20% of all fresh fruits and vegetables go to waste each year because they don’t meet the appearance standards for grocery stores or distributors. Courtney’s goal is to use this ugly produce to make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable to the people of the Triangle.
How did your local venture start?
Courtney Bell started Ungraded Produce with a friend in the summer of 2015. As a student at Duke University, passionate about food sustainability, Courtney jumped at the idea of starting a business to help bring produce to food deserts in Durham. Courtney and her friend were inspired by some of the waste reduction initiatives using ugly produce at French supermarkets, and decided to bring this idea to the Triangle. For the next year she reached out to farmers and distributors, and grew her business through word of mouth. Since then, Courtney has been doing everything from securing the produce, to delivering each box herself. Courtney has now grown her team, and has over 300 subscribers across the Triangle! Ungraded Produce is getting set to expand to Holly Springs and Fuquay as well.
What makes Ungraded Produce unique to the Triangle?
While the concept of using ugly produce isn’t necessarily unique to the Triangle, this company supports the Triangle in every way. From working with local farmers and distributors, to delivering produce to food desserts, Ungraded Produce is very invested in this community. Another thing that makes this company so unique is Courtney’s relationship with her customers and distributors. Since she has been doing everything herself, she takes her relationship with each customer, or person supporting her business, very seriously, and is grateful for each and every one of them.
What makes the Triangle “home” to you?
Originally from Maryland, Courtney feels at home in the Triangle because of the community. From the time she started Ungraded Produce she could tell that the people in the Triangle really care. They want to support small, local businesses that give back. She feels that this caring and welcoming community is unique to the Triangle, which makes it home.
Where can we find out more about Ungraded Produce?
Ungraded Produce is still a small, locally run company, but they have tons of options to fit everyone’s lifestyle. You can get small, medium, and large boxes of either mixed produce, or fruit or veggies only. So whether you have a large family, or only one person and a mini fridge, you can get produce conveniently delivered to you. The subscription is also flexible, offering weekly or bi-weekly options, however you can skip or pause your subscription whenever you’d like. You can find out more about Ungraded Produce on their website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.