The Beautiful Side of Ugly Produce

 

Well, we can’t all be the pretty ones.

It’s a fact of life as a farmer that you’re going to come across some strange looking produce every now and then. But what do you do when consumers are obsessed with perfect heads of cauliflower and you’ve got nowhere to go with that dopey little eggplant?

Startling statistics have surfaced recently that say that farmers are throwing away anywhere from 20-40% of their crops due to cosmetic imperfections. There are numerous problems that disposing of imperfect produce can cause. Primarily, many of those not-quite-perfect fruits and veggies end up in landfills; a direct cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention the implications of extreme wastefulness when we consider the 795 million, or 1 in every 9, people in this world who are underfed or starving.

In 2014, the European Union declared it The Year Against Food Waste. France began leading the way when its third largest supermarket chain, Intermarché, launched the global and wildly popular Inglorious Fruits and Vegetable campaign. The campaign reached over 20 million people within its first month and is responsible for starting the conversation on “ugly” produce.

Now even Wal-Mart has jumped on the imperfect produce train. In July of this year, Wal-Mart stores in Florida began carrying their own I’m Perfect brand of slightly damaged apples and the Spuglies brand of misshapen potatoes at a discounted price.  The company’s UK grocery chain, Asda, began carrying “wonky boxes” as well, which were extremely popular among European customers.

So what can you do to help bring these ugly fruits to a store near you? Research initiatives such as The Ugly Fruit & Veg Campaign and Imperfect Produce who are working to end food waste for good.


Does your restaurant make use of “wonky” produce? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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