Is this the answer to reducing food waste?

Filed in Blog by on June 19, 2014 12 Comments
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wonky veg the answer to food wasteAs you know by now, I have a bit of a thing about food waste.

I’ve run several Zero Waste Weeks on the theme and I try to waste as little of it as possible at home.

I’ve been known to recycle our breakfast, reheat takeaway chips and even offer to clear up restaurant after a Birthday buffet.

I’m by no means perfect – I STILL create food waste, but, like most of you, I try my best.

Fareshares tell us that in the UK, an estimated 20 million tonnes of food is wasted each year from plough to plate.

According to WRAP, the average householder throws away £60 per month of food; most of which could have been eaten.

Tesco recently admitted it wasted over 300,000 tonnes of food in six months.

Supermarkets are being urged to scrap Buy One Get One Free deals on foods which go off quickly.

And the ‘Best Before’ date is under scrutiny.

Meanwhile companies like Fareshare are taking surplus food to create meals for those who need them.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers go so far as to say that up to HALF the worlds food is wasted – through poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness.

They tell us that up to 30% of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance.

Professor Davey Jones of Bangor University says that a lot of food waste occurs because farmer’s food is not meeting the ‘technical specifications’.

These ‘specs’, as they are referred to within the industry, stipulate the size, shape and skin finish of produce. The grading system is based on aesthetics and bares no correlation to taste and nutritional value.

Today I learned of the French company Intermarché, who are addressing the issue by selling ‘Inglorious’ fruits and vegetables and the results have been astonishing.

Have a look and let me know what you think.

Would you buy wonky food for a 30% reduction?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. Beltway Barbarian says:

    Yes! I think the idea is fantastic, but I doubt Americans will ever be open to it.

  2. sooz says:

    Love it, I would definitely buy inglorious fruit and veg!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, I would. Especially for something like soups or stews. Or applesauce. Or anything where the vegetable/fruit isn’t going to remain whole. 🙂

  4. Kristen says:

    Totally! In fact, I purposely buy the ugly produce when I’m shopping because I know most other people wont.

  5. Shirley Braine-Porter says:

    As long as it is edible and can be peeled I have no problem.

  6. what a timely subject, i have noticed that the central USA is awakening to the necessity of sharing produce with those who cannot afford to buy the fruits and veges recommended by the food councils..much is harvested and stored to raise prices at market..these commodities then end up being exported or distributed to outlets like Second the benefit of those in need..
    yes i do partake of bruised fruits and limp veges.., though i do grow my own, a very ripe tropical fruit such as papaya or mango can offer delight and digestive benefits..

  7. lizard100 says:

    I’m surprised at the comments that would buy this veg as long as it’s appearance could be disguised. Appearance doesn’t affect taste. We should be thinking of tasteless produce as ugly not the reverse.

  8. Philippa says:

    If you grow your own you learn to appreciate it more. It is worth growing something. If you were to grow some herbs you would have hardier ones and you wouldn’t have all that plastic and compost to dispose of. (There are often too many plants crammed into a pot and so they go mouldy and die earlier.)

    I fondly remember growing radishes with my Grandad and being given the first peas to pod. If you grow your own then you pick them smaller than the ones in the shops. The wonder of the natural packaging seeds grow in!

    The laughs we had when funny shaped vegetables were brought in!

    It is shame that some of the tastiest varieties are lost because the way that they crop or travel or keep don’t suit supermarket-type marketing.

  9. pocketgreen says:

    They definitely should start selling wobbly nobbly veg! And they should start selling more veg loose again. Many UK supermarkets now have potatoes and carrots and more in plastic – they looked more appetising ‘loose’.

  10. Yifei says:

    I really like the idea of ‘Inglorious’ fruits and vegetables. It can efficiently reduce the amount of waste food. And I’m also surprised to see that they are almost the same as normal fruits and vegetables! I’m willing to by such fruits and vegetables. But, on the other hand, I also think that it will be a little bit difficult for people to accept their inperfect appearance at first site. So, I suggest that we really should do this step by step. Starting with making juice or jam with such ‘inglorious’ fruits and vegetables will be a good choice.

  11. Grace Wolff says:

    I really love this idea. I have been doing a research paper for the past few months on food waste and found that consumers’ requirement of a certain aesthetic from their produce is a major cause of food wasted. Since consumers won’t buy it, neither will grocery stores which forces little options for the farmer other than throw it out. I would love it if grocery stores in the united states of america picked up this idea. Do you know if anyone has been working towards convincing grocery stores in the USA to sell ugly produce?

    • Mrs Green says:

      I’d love to hear more about your research paper. I’m not sure about whether the USA sell ‘ugly’ foods – I’ll ask on social media 🙂

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