Have you ever considered that all the fresh produce that we presented with at the supermarket looks almost identical? All the navel oranges, the pink lady apples, the lettuces, corn, broccoli, just to name a few, look the same as each other. Apparently this occurs because the supermarkets believe we will only purchase beautiful, unblemished fruit and vegetables. But what happens to the imperfect fruit and vegetables, the produce that has a blemish or is misshapen? No doubt some of it goes to feed stock and some may also go into juices or preserves but there is still a lot of waste.
Food waste is a growing problem at all levels of the food chain. In 2013, globally we produced about four billion metric tonnes of food. However as the result of poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30 to 50 percent (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. It is even worse when you consider that some of it is wasted because it is ‘ugly’.
Intermarche, one of the largest supermarket chains in France, has decided to stand up for the ‘ugly’ fruit of the world – and sell it to consumers rather than allow it to be wasted. In July they started their Inglorious fruit and vegetable marketing campaign that included having a more budget-friendly price point. Consequently this aesthetically challenged produce is not only 30 percent cheaper, it was also paired to some clever signage such as “An ugly carrot is a beautiful soup.”
The Ugly Fruit movement is starting to take off in other places with various groups in countries like the UK and Germany encouraging food stores to include the ugly produce in their offerings. There is even a German catering company, Culinary Misfits, that only uses misshapen fruit and makes a feature of it in their marketing.
Hopefully one day we can encourage our supermarkets to understand that the real beauty in fruit and vegetables is not how they look but how they taste – and that may see an end to the ridiculous amount of waste and help ensure that everybody can afford fresh and tasty fruit and vegetables. Perhaps ugly will become the new beautiful and we might all see that strange-looking vegetables really are more beautiful than the bland tasting monotonous array currently presented to us when we shop.