How Ugly Produce Can Change Your Life For The Better
Perfect symmetry, flawless colouring, blemish free fruit and vegetables, that come in their ‘natural’ shape and size. These are what we have been lead to believe are the perfect choices when selecting our produce. Because of this 1 in 5 pieces of fruit in America get rejected because they do not fit the ‘standard’. When they are rejected they are thrown away, useless because they provide no profit. Yet the world is now opening up to the possibility that perfection, is in fact, not perfect at all. Especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables. It’s not perfect for your health, OR for the environment!
The ‘Ugly’ Truth
When you hear the term ‘ugly produce’, you are probably expecting bruised, or horrible produce, that has no place in a healthy and nutritious diet. However, the term ‘ugly produce’ is actually used to describe fruit and vegetables that are grown with no greater crime than looking a little different. Sure they may be an odd size or shape, or maybe the coloring is a little off, however, don’t be too quick to dismiss the odd ones out. You might be surprised to learn is that not only are these individual looking fruits and vegetables as packed full of taste and nutrients as any other, opting to purchase them (over those that have conformed to society’s ‘norms’) has numerous other benefits asides from looking ‘unique’.
From a health perspective, let us consider organic produce. When fruits and vegetables are not sprayed in chemicals, such as fungicide, insecticide or pesticides, they grow naturally. ‘Naturally’ doesn’t mean they always end up resembling an oil painting, it means they grow as nature intended. So some odd shapes or slight discolourations are all part of the natural beauty of fruit and vegetables. It is only over centuries of spraying and genetically engineering that more consistent ‘perfect’ specimens have been created.
For this reason, opting for a more natural product can be an indication of a more natural growing process.
How Ugly Can Help The Environment
Did you know that almost a third of all the worlds produce never gets eaten? That is nearly 3 trillion pounds of food per year, wasted! Every pound of produce that is grown takes up considerable amounts of energy, water and other resources, including people’s time and effort.
This discarded food ends up rotting away in landfills and it may surprise you to learn that food waste makes up the single largest component of municipal waste in America. Here it contributes to a large percentage of our country’s methane emission. Though the idea of rotting vegetation seems harmless enough, methane, compared to carbon dioxide, has 21 times greater global warming potential, meaning that all this extra food wastage is contributing to warming or our planet and the melting of the polar ice caps.
Not all food wastage occurs due to the discarding of ‘ugly produce’, but a large portion of it does. Working on switching our mentality in regards to how fresh produce should look, will help dramatically decrease this percentage and improve the conservation of water, energy and resources wasted each year.
Waste Not Want Not
According to The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, around 1 in 9 people are suffering chronic undernourishment. That is nearly 11% of our world’s population that not only don’t have much to eat, many of them have so little they die from malnutrition. You might think this is all happening in developing countries, but you would be wrong, there are estimated 11 million people in developed countries that are going hungry.
The 2.9 trillion pounds of produce that get wasted each year could feed the people that go hungry, twice over! That is nearly 800 million people, twice over! It just doesn’t seem right, does it?
Fortunately our communities are starting to catch on to the importance of cutting down food wastage, and also just how brilliant ‘ugly’ produce is. You can now order boxes of ugly produce to be delivered to your door, or purchase products made from ugly produce. Companies like Project Juice are doing their part to end this food wastage and educate everyone on the importance of fresh, organic and delicious produce (no matter what it’s physical appearance may be!).
So how can you help balance this scale a little? Support your local ugly produce stores, ugly produce companies and farmers markets, by opting to purchase some of their slightly more unique looking produce!. In doing so you will:
- Help support local farmers
- Cut down on food wastage
- Potentially be eating more natural and nutritious produce
- Save money (These neglected produce often come at a discounted price!)
Embrace the beautiful ‘unique’ qualities of ugly fruit and veg, and incorporate them as part of your nutritious diet!