Help Stop Food Waste by Embracing 'Ugly' Produce
Jordan Figueiredo, the writer and anti-food waste activist who started the "@UglyFruitAndVeg Campaign" is a legend in my book. Did you know we waste 20 to 40 percent of fruits and vegetables worldwide? Consumers and retailers reject millions of perfectly nutritious produce based solely on aesthetics. Meanwhile, millions of people around the globe go hungry, living in undernourished communities with limited access to the very same foods many overlook.
Often, perfectly good produce is rejected by a retailer (or doesn't even make it past the farm) and ends up in a landfill releasing methane into the air. This methane then contributes to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the environment and climate change. Mega downward spiral, if you ask me! Food waste is such a huge problem, and it is up to all of us to stop the progression.
The Ugly Fruit & Veg Campaign's strategy is two-pronged: First, it encourages retailers to purchase "imperfect" produce and sell it at a 30 to 50 percent markdown if needed. This minimizes food waste while increasing access to fruit and vegetables for shoppers on a tight budget. The campaign has successfully encouraged grocery store companies around the world to stock "ugly" fruits and vegetables and continues its efforts at convincing more large retail chains that are still guilty of rejecting less-than-perfect produce.
Second, the campaign tries to create a market for blemished products by urging consumers to understand that ugly fruits and vegetables are not any less nutritious than their more beautiful counterparts.
Are You Inspired to Shop Ugly?
There are a few ways to show your support for ugly fruits and vegetables:
- Consider swinging through a farmers market for your next grocery run — many vendors at these events are local farmers selling non-uniform produce.
- Check out this list on EndFoodWaste.org that highlights U.S. locations selling ugly fruits and vegetables.
- Stay up on the latest news from the @UglyFruitandVeg Campaign by follow them on social media channels including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Stay informed, buy the ugly produce, and let’s all do our part to help reduce food waste and move closer to a healthier, hunger-free world.
Marissa Thiry, RDN, is a nutrition communications specialist in Chicago, IL. She is a blogger at New Kid On The Guac and a strong advocate for a balanced and active lifestyle, filled with wholesome and delicious food. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.