Ever passed on a piece of fruit or veggie just because it wasn’t the prettiest one in the bunch?
We’ve all done it, and it has to stop. I was shocked to hear that nearly one-third of all food produced in the world meant for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. That’s approximately 1.3 billion tons! Holy (organic) cow.
I was thinking about this issue this past week while picking fresh cherries in my family’s orchard at Flathead Lake. A few of them had a small split or blemish, so the co-op wouldn’t even pick them this year. I couldn’t believe it! All of these gorgeous (and very highly coveted) cherries will go to waste just because they weren’t pretty. Trust me, they are just as good as the blemish-free ones. However, the co-op didn’t think people would buy them because they aren’t as pretty as the rest. Total nonsense. I picked as many as I could bring home and hardly made a dent in what was available.
Almost all produce is still perfectly great even if it’s not movie-set-ready. Small blemishes or misshapen parts are just fine. Just look for mold or an off smell, if that’s the case then toss it. Otherwise, don’t waste good food. If you don’t like the blemished spot just cut it off. And ugly veggies can be sassy! Check out my example above of one of the cherries that might be passed up for no good reason and some almost NSFW parsnips 😉
I recently came across this brilliant campaign created by French supermarket Intermarché called Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables. It’s a 3-minute video, print, poster and radio campaign, celebrating the beauty of the Grotesque Apple, the Ridiculous Potato, the Hideous Orange, the Failed Lemon, the Disfigured Eggplant, the Ugly Carrot, and the Unfortunate Clementine.
How clever! “Ugly” produce is just as good as the pretty stuff and tastes the same. The company sold these unbeauties but 30% cheaper and, after educating consumers, sold out almost immediately. Pure genius. I hope American supermarkets will follow suit.
To put this in perspective, here are some more shocking facts about food waste worldwide:
- Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.
- Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
- Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).
- At the retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.
- Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.
- Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labor and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
(Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.)
Tips To Prevent Food Waste
- Blemished or misshaped produce is often sold at a discount. Fill up your basket and save.
- Instead of throwing things away, make an “everything in the fridge juice” if you own a juicer when you start to notice that your produce might go bad. I do it all the time and it’s not half bad.
- Freeze unused fruit and veggies to use at a later date. This locks in nutrients and saves you a lot in the long run.
Check out this post I did about never throwing away a banana again. I will write a post soon about the best ways to freeze produce, but in general, just wash, peel, cut and prepare as you would use it fresh, dry it with a towel and freeze in freezer-safe bags. Just about everything freezes beautifully with the exception of leafy greens.
What do you think? Will this change the way you shop and eat?
Share with me in the comments below.