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Why Waste? “Ugly” Foods Getting a Fresh Start

Posted by Katie Orphey on

A lot of amazing foods are less than gorgeous. Ingredients like blue cheese, morels, and truffles get a zero in the looks department but 100 in the taste! Not to mention superfoods (like maca, ho shou wu, and miso) that aren’t too appetizing until you cook em’ up, take a bite and enjoy all the health-boosting goodness they have to offer. Would you still be willing to take that same leap for a crooked carrot, curvy cucumber, or undersized apple?

Ugly Foods Getting a Fresh Start

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the US trashes roughly one-third of its food supply, USA Today reports, while the National Resources Defense Council says we waste up to 40 percent of our food. Where’s all that food going and why? Well, you can credit the majority of this waste to grocery stores’ strict cosmetic standards: 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables grown aren’t up to par — the twisted parsnip, the oversized sweet potato, the blemished apple — usually causing them to go to waste.

Image: @imperfectproduce

Giving Produce a Second Chance

But ugly foods are getting a fresh start with the rise of do good companies like Imperfect Produce and Hungry Harvest a Maryland startup, who you may have caught on a recent episode of ABC’s Shark Tank. They have opened the door to a different kind of produce delivery, while giving less than perfect produce a second chance.

The ugly food philosophy: just because a fruit or vegetable is too large, too small, discolored, or just plain ugly doesn’t mean that it should go to waste. Especially, in a country where 1 out of 6 people are experiencing hunger. By purchasing blemished produce and repurposing it for produce delivery services these companies have found a way to provide healthy and organic produce, while reducing waste and providing food to those who are going without. Could this be the answer to the world’s hunger epidemic? We hope so!

What Can We Do?

It wasn’t before long that this revolution caught the attention of major food chains, like Whole Foods Markets. While they have used less attractive produce for their prepared food, juices, and smoothies the company is planning on giving the ugly produce a starring role in the produce department of the grocery store later this month.

“Our goal is zero waste and we’re always looking for ways to reduce our collective impact and positively influence the industry,” Whole Foods said in a statement.

The Whole Foods pilot will place less than perfect fruits and veggies on display in the store’s produce department for the first time ever. Unfortunately, this is only being tested in select Northern California stores. We can only hope (and cross our fingers) that this trend will be rolled out nationally and be next wave of efforts to eliminate food waste. And why not? It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Lettuce know what you think about the ugly food philosophy in the comments below?