Combat Food Waste by Embracing Ugly Produce

| 2/13/2018 6:30:00 AM

According to The Food and Agriculture Organization, we waste 1.3 billion tons of food each year. Research reveals that the bins of most households are filled with rotten foods and food waste. But what about those that weren’t spoiled and in perfectly excellent condition? Though the exact numbers aren’t yet known, thousands of fruits and veggies are thrown away just because they lack the ‘aesthetic appeal.’

Interestingly, we expect to be greeted by shiny, uniform shaped produce—fruits and vegetables that look precisely like supermodels! Often ‘supposedly dreadful’ delicious and nutritious veggies and fruits aren’t accepted by supermarkets. In fact, farmers do away with them only because their skin is slightly blemished, they have scabs, or have an unusual shape.

These stats are especially saddening when you note that the United Nations has estimated that one in nine people around the world don’t have access to adequate food. What’s worse is that more and more people are dying from hunger every day. Though diseases like AIDs and malaria still prevail, food waste is at its highest and nearly 1/3 of the food that is being produced is thrown away. This means we aren’t just wasting food, but also other resources like land, water, and soil that were used to grow and nurture it.

However, there’s still light at the end of the tunnel because for the last two years, supermarkets throughout North America and Europe are running campaigns where they sell ‘ugly’ produce and even encourage people to buy it. But before we get into that, let’s take a brief look at the consequences of wasting so much food in the first place.

variety of pumpkins
Photo by Pexels

Implications of Wasting Food

Produced but uneaten food takes almost 1.4 billion hectares of land, which is around 30 percent of the world’s total agricultural land. Fifty-two percent of the wastage occurs even before it is processed, distributed, or consumed. This means that a lot of the fruits and vegetables are thrown out during production and post-harvest handling. And the biggest reason for this is because the food isn’t “pretty enough.”