Perfect, Ugly Produce

I’m a product of a grocery industry that determines the shape, size and color of the fresh foods I eat. That is ridiculous, isn’t it? Why do my tomatoes have to be round? Why do my carrots have to fit into a 10-inch long plastic bag? (Well, I guess we can’t blame the grocery industry, right? They are just giving the consumers what they demand.)

I grew up and lived in the United States for my whole life, so I never saw misshapen produce in the supermarkets. Unusual shapes and sizes came in the garden, and–I’m sure it’s no surprise–the flavor doesn’t change just because of the shape. I grew the carrots below in my garden, and they were tender, sweet and delicious.

I know in America we have a bit of idolatry surrounding perfectionism–even down to fruits and vegetables. That perfection worship became crystal clear when I moved to Bahrain, where perfect produce is not a value for most people. It was an eye-opener when I first saw so many misshapen and imperfect items for sale in all the stores. For three years, we have seen stores full of beautiful and crazy-shaped fruits and vegetables.

I purposely buy the craziest specimens I can find, for I want to make sure our supermarkets keep carrying these beautiful, perfectly ugly and healthy foods.

For More Reading

The Guardian “Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests”

Huffington Post “6 Billion Pounds of Edible Produce Is Wasted Every Year, Just Because It’s Ugly”

Imperfect Produce – Buy “ugly” produce for half the price in the Bay Area in California, and they will deliver it right to your door.

Just Eat It | A Food Waste Story – A documentary film

National Geographic “How ‘Ugly’ Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Solve World Hunger”

NPR – “To Tackle Food Waste, Big Grocery Chain will Sell Produce Rejects” – They may market them as the ‘underdogs’ of produce.