Judging a Produce by its Cover- A Ode to Ugly Food

 In Food Waste

When you shop for food or produce, how do you choose the best fruit in the selection? Do you know which mango will be the best, or how to tell if cherries will go bad? If you are anything like me as a kid, you may have reached for the shiniest fruit available. Typically, we see the more beautiful and aesthetically pleasing a fruit is, the more tasty it will be. Does better looking fruit taste better? Unless we are handling avocados, the process is very simple.

Picture this: You walk into the grocery store to do your weekly shopping. Grabbing a cart, you begin to browse down the aisle to all the products that are demanded in your household. Perhaps you live alone, with a partner, or you have three children who are picky eaters. Either way, preparing your meals for the week can always bee a bit tricky if you’re trying to please everyone.

Turning into the produce section you begin to pick fruits and vegetables. Naturally, you select the biggest and shiniest apple you can find in the selection. Sound familiar? Naturally, we all do this, because we assume the prettier the fruit looks, the better it tastes. But, this happens to be a habit that contributes heavily to food waste.

Did you know?

Something as innocent as judging for the best fruit is part of the habits that contribute to food waste.

For this reason, vendors want to make the their fruit and produce as beautiful as possible. We have practiced and perfected simple tactics to make food look prettier to buy, but at a price. A huge amount of food loss occurs from discarded produce that does not meet supermarket aesthetic expectations. vendors will reject or be unable to sell food that is perfect to use. This is a huge amount of food that is perfectly edible, wasted! The only thing worse than food waste, is wasting delicious good food because it doesn’t look a certain way.

Rejected produce is one of the biggest problems concerning food waste and availability to consumers.

With a market demanding a certain aesthetic need or standard, there is still so much edible food that doesn’t make it the store for consumption. Thanks to recent technology, more alternatives were made for food to be re-dispersed to other areas for consumption or purchase. Other alternatives for food redistribution can be for charities, homeless shelters or kitchens in need.

 

Don’t Discriminate, Buy Ugly Food!

Play your part the next time you go shopping! Try picking up some fruit or produce that looks a little ‘abnormal’. Even if it is a little funky looking, it probably tastes just as delicious. Try using abnormal shaped carrots for a soup, or adding funny potatoes to a dish of oven cooked vegetables. Little by little, the integration and acceptance of vegetables encourages the sales of abnormal fruits and vegetables on the market, and hence, we can continue to reduce food waste!

A lot of our aesthetic expectations about food appearance are taught to us through Television and media. Marketers will manipulate food appearances on commercials to look more appetizing, but often use those ingredients aren’t even real. The hierarchy image of food waste management here also explains alternative uses for food which can include using good quality food for places in need, or even animal feed. In this video, Tristam (a food waste activist) explains how he grew up in the UK supplying his animals almost entirely with food waste!

 

What We Need to Change

Luckily,  people realize that throwing ugly fruits away is a real problem. Every time farmers or supermarkets discard edible food, there is a great economic loss based only on a taboo of food aesthetics. In business, we are only beginning to realize opportunities with food waste. There have been campaigns all over the world, encouraging more sales of food, regardless of how it looks.

Intermarché, a commercial supermarket originally from France,  launched a powerful campaign advocating the use of ugly foods with this powerful video.

 

 

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