Start-up in Florida sells “ugly” produce from farms
Food is food, no matter their look or shape. At one glance, the food above doesn’t look out of the ordinary, but on closer examination, we see an extra stem where there is none, or a different shape than what we expect.
We go to the supermarkets and never question the looks of the produce we see there. That’s because supermarkets only bring in fruits and vegetables that meet their beauty standards. That’s right, even fruits and vegetables need to look beautiful.
As a result, farms toss away such products. It is reported that 1 in 5 produce is thrown away each year due to their looks. There is growing awareness regarding food waste – with the amount of food we dispose of, we can fill 44 skyscrapers.
Just to put things into perspective: around 800 million people worldwide don’t have enough to eat. However, 2.9 trillion pounds of food are wasted a year, which is more than sufficient to feed those who are starving. Developed countries are a huge supplier of wasted food when we toss out imperfect produce or not finishing food we have in our fridges.
Thankfully, someone has attempted to correct this. Imperfect Produce has teamed up with Whole Foods to test consumer reaction to such products in certain stores in Northern California. According to a Whole Foods spokesperson, talks are still underway and there are certain steps they have taken, such as buying ugly produce for prepared foods, smoothie bars and juice. This partnership, though, definitely has the potential to move us towards zero waste.
This idea is not new, however, as it has been explored in part by French supermarket chain Intermarche. They launched a campaign titled Inglorious fruits and vegetables that generated buzz and sales, as the EU has declared 2014 the Year Against Food Waste. French consumers are not deterred by the looks of the produce, and might be drawn to the idea of reducing waste and additional savings.
Similar to Imperfect Produce, such “ugly” produce are acquired at a huge discount from farms, who has no use for them – until now. As such, cost savings can be transferred to consumers, who will then enjoy cheaper fruits and vegetables.
With such initiatives, consumers can become more aware of such a situation in their supermarkets. If this were to take off, perhaps more developed countries can pick up on it as well and take a step towards reducing food waste in the world. Maybe the next time you visit the supermarket, you’ll think twice about what you buy.