by Dara Bloom
At this point, you’re probably so used to shopping in a supermarket that you’ve never noticed that there’s something a little funny with the fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle. Row upon row of apples that are the same size, shape, and color, alongside perfect cucumbers and unblemished tomatoes… it’s a little eerie, isn’t it?
How did they get to be so perfect? Nature doesn’t seem to make other things all alike-
just look at people, all different sizes, shapes and colors… and anyone who’s ever grown food in a garden or on a farm knows that vegetables are no different. Supermarkets like uniformity, and prefer fruits and vegetables that fit neatly into boxes and onto shelves.
But that means that all of the imperfect fruits and vegetables don’t make it to the supermarket! Where do they go? A lot of times that food gets left in the field or fed to the farm animals… but sometimes it makes it to farmers’ markets, a food pantry, or to a processor who can turn misshapen apples into applesauce or distorted cucumbers into pickles.
Finding uses for funny looking fruits and vegetables is part of a growing trend to reduce waste in the food system. Ugly fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious and taste just as good as perfect looking ones, especially when they’re in soups, smoothies, or chopped up in salads. In addition to different shapes and sizes, many times produce might have some damage from weather or pests that can be easily removed, and which doesn’t affect nutritional quality or food safety. And remember, you can stretch your food dollars and reduce waste by using parts that you might otherwise throw away. You can throw stems, peels and tops into a pot and make some vegetable stock, or you could try grating broccoli stems and using them in coleslaw. Using every part of the vegetable is the new hot trend in top restaurants!
Lots of organizations have begun campaigns to raise consumer awareness about how delicious funny looking food can be.
Check them out!
And here are some fun pictures from UglyFruitAndVeg via Twitterto remind us that Mother Nature has a sense of humor: