Have you ever seen a carrot with an extra leg? Or a cucumber that looks like it is reaching for its toes? Or maybe conjoined onions? Conjonions? (lol).
It is logical to think that these fresh fruits and vegetables don’t exist, or are freaks of nature. Or that it is normal that we only see uniform fruits and veggies, all perfectly aligned on supermarket shelves. But that isn’t the truth either, well not all of it. Truth is they get thrown away.
We are all aware of the global issue of food wastage - and often we think of food we waste at home, or those that restaurants throw away. But the largest chunk of food that is wasted is actually food that never leaves the farm.
But before we get to the end, let’s start at what we’ll call the beginning…
Beauty has long been a major factor for humans when it comes to how we value certain objects (and people, too, let’s be honest!) Humans are so obsessed with beauty, it is all we talk about. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, blinded by beauty, inner beauty, natural beauty, ageless beauty, small is beautiful, big is beautiful, life is beautiful!
We apply these beauty obsessed eyes to our food as well. Before a carrot was just a carrot. Now there is such a thing as a beautifully perfect carrot, and therefore an ugly one.
But fresh fruits and vegetables were not always considered this way- back when most humans ate organically (when it was just ‘eating’) we’d come across these imperfect vegetables often and it was normal. Sure, we eat with our eyes first, and we would be drawn to a perfectly rounded even pepper rather than one which is scrunching up its face, but the truth of the matter is they probably taste the same. And I say probably, because the ugly veg most likely tastes better.
That seems odd, but let’s talk about why we don’t see “ugly” fruit and vegetables more often.
As mentioned before, we humans can’t help but be attracted to the perfect looking produce - we’re superficial. Supermarkets, who play a huge role in forming our opinion about foods, know this, and as such they have purposefully done away with (im)perfectly good produce because of its looks.
It seems like the logical plan of action: provide the customers with what they want and what they will buy rather than taking up space for ugly food. Sure - but the fall out is nothing short of catastrophic.
Sometimes up to 1/3 of an organic farmer’s harvest will never see customers because supermarkets wouldn't approve. And although organic farmers often turn it into compost, they would much rather not waste it.
Why does it get thrown away when it is still fresh and good? Well, it might be too long, too short, too curved, too extra. And it’s organic farm vegetables that are more likely to grow this way because Mother Nature has a sense of humour sometimes. We just seem to have forgotten that fresh fruits and vegetables come in different shapes and sizes because we don’t see natural, organically grown foods as often anymore.
Supermarkets are very specific about the size, shape and colour of produce, and if a piece of fruit or vegetable doesn’t meet the standard, it gets rejected. To keep the “perfect” vegetables all uniform, the food industry plays around with the seeds, the way it's grown, when it is picked, how it is stored etc. So the nutritional value gets affected.
This produce is presented to you because it looks best, not because it tastes best, or is the best for you.
We all know the benefits of buying organic vegetables, but let’s be honest- it isn’t in everyone’s price range. Well, that is where the perfectly imperfect vegetable comes in - organic, tastes better, more nutritious, and sold for a lower price.
Now we’re all thinking “ugly is beautiful!”
FreshOnTable has just started providing ugly organic vegetable boxes for delivery in the UAE. This will help minimise food waste, give local farmers an added income stream, and provide fresh organic fruit and vegetables at a cheaper rate to customers. So, let’s rescue the ugly, eat more nutritiously, and have a good laugh with Mother Nature at our weird carrots.