As I’ve continued attending classes and exploring this cool thing called “nutrition”, I’ve only begun discovering just how many different aspects of food and nutrition there really are. One aspect I’m thinking of that’s tugged not only on my curiosity, but also my conscience, is sustainability.
Sustainability, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as relating to “a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged“. In reality, sustainability has countless definitions depending on the country, organization, or individual person talking about it, but UCLA decided to consolidate all the different definitions and summarize it as this: the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. That’s very cool to me, and a great way to live.
So what’s a great way to practice sustainability? Growing your own food? Creating a compost bin? Recycling, right?
Those are all great ideas, of course, but what about just buying ugly produce?
I don’t know about you, but I was taught at an early age to be picky about the appearance of my fruits and veggies. It’s true that many food safety experts caution to avoid foods with bruises or scratches to avoid contamination with bacteria, but a lot of us extend this fear to avoiding things like crooked carrots and lumpy tomatoes. Unfortunately, over half of all produce in the United States goes to waste, and much of that is due to the tendency for consumers, retailers, and even farms to reject crops with even the slightest imperfections. So companies fear costumers won’t buy that ugly produce, and we fear that eating that mutant carrot will turn us into a witch, probably.
As a result, so much perfectly fine produce is wasted. Given that at least 12 percent of people in the U.S. have limited access to healthy and safe food, the fact that we are still wasting so much of that food is troubling to say the least.
In response, companies and organizations are trying to turn the switch on this situation. Here’s what they’re doing right now:
1: Advocate for ugly produce. Organizations like the Food Waste Reduction Alliance are promoting ugly produce in one of their efforts to reduce food waste in the United States, assuring customers that even fruits and veggies that aren’t exactly beautiful are still nutritious and delicious. There are also websites like Ugly Fruit and Veg that are dedicated to showing how beautiful ugly produce can be (you can check out their Ugly Fruit Posters here).
2: Buy and sell ugly produce. Imperfect Produce is a company based in San Francisco that ships orders of less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables to customers for 30-50% less than what they’d be charged at the grocery store. Their goal is to not only save customers time and money, but also to drastically cut down on the current food waste situation. (Currently, they only ship to the Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle, but are planning to come soon to the Southwest and beyond)
So what do you think? Is ugly produce still a little too weird to you, or are you gonna give the three-headed lemon a try? What’s the ugliest fruit/veg you’ve ever seen? Share what you think in the comments below!