Embracing "Cosmetically Challenged" Fruits + Veggies

When it comes to food: Perfect is out… Imperfect is in! Yep, finally beautifully ugly veggies are getting more attractive and it’s a new trend that’s taking over the globe. 

Ever seen “ugly” fruits and vegetables that are not so polished and are a little disfigured? Well if you shop at the big chain supermarkets, then probably not because they simply won’t sell them to their customers. But if you grow your own produce at home or shop at the local farmers market, then most likely you have seen that fresh produce grows in many different shapes and forms. Just like each one of us is different from each other, so are a lot of the foods we enjoy on a daily basis. Yes, I am here to tell you that not all apples are perfectly round and that carrots can have multiple legs. Did you know that most farmers in Australia are forced to waste approximately 25% of their yield due to perceived “flaws”, or as the Oakland based start up Imperfect in California likes to call them “cosmetically challenged” fruits and vegetables.   

But some farmers are starting to take a new approach by focusing on the freshness of the food and how it tastes, not on how it looks. From France, to Australia and the USA, people are waking up to the fact that there is a market for these somewhat strange looking yet super tasty foods. We are at a critical point in our existence and evolution on this plant where it’s time to get even more serious about how we can live in a sustainable way with minimal waste or environmental impact. Limited resources like pure drinking water, high quality soil, nutritional density of produce, and clean air to breathe etc. are the basics that give us life, and therefore need to be protected and treasured by all. 

Think about it… We need to be ultra conservative with water use. We need to farm in a biodynamic way to ensure the soil is healthy and rich in nutrients, so that the food we grow in it is also healthy and rich in nutrients. We need to offset our carbon emissions and minimize overall pollution so that we have clean air to breathe. And we need to feed the world by not wasting perfectly good food unnecessarily because of how it looks. In the case of “ugly” yet delicious and nutrient dense produce, we can use it in innovative ways if we come together and put our minds to it. Here are some savvy ideas to consider: using it to cook healthy meals in homeless shelters, making organic fruit and veggies affordable to low income families, pureeing them into nutritious baby food, juicing or blending them at the "trendy" juice and smoothie shops, or even using them to make delicious soups. 

Next time you see quirky looking produce at your local green grocer or farmers market, don’t discriminate and give it a try. I guarantee you will enjoy eating it just as much as those other posh and shiny fruits and veggies that glisten on regular supermarket shelves. Just because they are a little odd in appearance, doesn’t mean they aren’t full of flavor, important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Educate your family and friends, show them off and be proud of your perfectly “ugly” produce. Get creative and come up with different ways to make good use of them so there is less waste for a happier planet.     

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