Did you know that 1 in 3 pieces of fruit, or vegetables, are wasted in Australia and that most of this wastage occurs simply because it is deemed ‘ugly’? Think of all the people out there that are literally starving to death and yet we are chucking away carrots that have two tails (two for the price of one!?), or slightly misshapen strawberries.
When we are shopping for fresh produce, our instinctive response it to select the items that best represent what we have been programmed to view as the ideal piece of fruit or vegetable. Perfectly symmetrical, flawless colouring and no markings or shapes that differ from perfection. Anything outside of these basic requirements is deemed bad. Yet ‘Ugly’ produce, is not bruised or horrible, it is simple shaped and/or coloured in the way nature had intended it to be.
However this ‘ugly produce’ could help change our world for the better, and here is why:
Protect our environment - One of the leading reasons that people across the globe are recognising the importance of utilising ugly produce is the impact wasting it is having on our environment. Did you know that about 20% of produce is rejected after it has been harvested, simply because of aesthetics? Think of all the resources that went into getting the produce that far? The water, the energy, the fuel and the man hours. Then consider this; nearly a third of the world’s produce gets wasted and ends up rotting as landfill. Now rotting vegetation might seem harmless enough, it is natural after all, however, it makes up one of the largest components of municipal waste in Australia. This rotting waste emits methane gas, which has 21 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide. So if we are not going to use it, we should not be growing it in the first place!
Support good health - Ugly produce may not look as appealing as other produce, yet it is still packed with just as many nutrients, and can even be more delicious! Nature didn’t intend for all grown foods to look perfect. ‘Perfection’, if we can call it that, is something we have created over time with genetic engineering. It is something we try to ensure with the spraying of insecticides, pesticides, fungicides. Often lots of the organic produce, available at your local farmer’s markets, is slightly less than perfect looking (AKA: ugly) yet is this way because it hasn’t been smothered in chemicals.
Save some cash - Fortunately, many Farmers Markets are starting to catch on to the importance of these produce. Harris Farm Markets, for example, has a range they call the ‘Imperfect Picks’, which allows you to opt for ugly produce at a reduced price.
So next time you are out shopping for fresh produce, consider opting for the ugly produce. You can grab a bargain whilst supporting your own health and the environment!