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Why Aren’t We Eating Ugly Produce?

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Why Aren’t We Eating Ugly Produce?

You know that food waste is bad for the planet and for your wallet, but one of the major causes of waste in our food system is something you might not expect.

Yes, we waste a lot of food by tossing leftovers and letting food spoil in the fridge, but before most of our food reaches store shelves, it has to look the part. Wait….what?

It’s true! Grocery stores won’t sell ugly produce, because consumers don’t tend to buy ugly produce. That means an apple that’s a little misshapen or an onion that has a spot on it ends up in the compost heap or the landfill, rather than at the store, and all of that wasted food drives up food prices by decreasing supply.

We already don’t produce enough fruits and vegetables to meet suggested daily serving amounts for everyone, and at the same time we’re further reducing access to produce by tossing fruits and veggies just because they’re not picture perfect.

What’s mind-blowing about this problem is that ugly produce is no less healthy than the perfect-looking fruits and veggies that make it to the grocery store. One of my favorite ugly veggies is what my friend Rob calls a “pants carrot.” You can see a beautiful pants carrot – which you’d never find at a conventional grocery store – pictured at the top of this page.

So, what can we, as consumers, do about this huge waste of food? We only have so much power, but there are ways that we can keep ugly produce out of the landfill and put it onto our plates. Check out how on the next page!

Image Credit: Photo by Becky Striepe

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

66 comments

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9:24AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

Apparently red delicious apples grown in Illinois are super tasty, but not pretty. Notice how all the ones in the store taste a bit mealy? I'll take flavor over looks any time!!,

10:22PM PDT on May 5, 2013

As long as they haven't been sprayed to make them look fresh to look better!
Watch for roadside markets or local farmers!
Scrub and they are just fine!
Thank You

10:29PM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

Ugly is good!

3:39PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

As far as the ugly produce, it is not bad inherently, but it can.does disguise bad(gone bad) produce. For example. When I look at oranges, I want to buy ones where the skin has minimal dimpling.

The smoother the rind, the juicier the orange will be. Whereas a heavily dimpled rind could be juicy, but it could also be a sign that the fruit inside has dried out. Have you ever eaten an orange only to discover you can't eat the whole thing because half of it is dried out, bitter fruit?

3:34PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

With the reference to transferring the corn eaten by cows to people

" If we got those grains directly to people, think of how many hungry mouths we could feed!"
: And all those people would have pellagra and their brains would be dying. Pellagra: A serious nutritional shortfall disease when one consumes predominantly one grain-corn. Steer don't get pellagra.

5:36PM PST on Jan 2, 2013

Our food never has the time to go bad. We only prepare as much as we need to eat within a day, and fruits or veggies don't last long around us.

1:24AM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Thanks! I love Care2 for always planting little seeds in my head...

When I am at a grocery store I may start seeking out the "ugly" produce.

11:33AM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Thank you

11:30AM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Unbelievable this goes on when the starving have nothing...

4:41PM PST on Nov 19, 2012

I love oddly shaped fruits. I find them "quirky", and have nothing against eating them. That is just a waste.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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