If you haven’t already noticed, there is a massive problem with food waste these days (specifically fresh produce)! 100 years ago, not so much of a problem, but today we have “voluntary USDA standards” for beautiful uniform fruits and vegetables, and like most people, we eat with our eyes first. I think you’ll agree that what is being displayed on the shelves of your local grocery store is not the misshapen muskmelon or the crooked carrot, but the perfectly round apples or blemish free bell peppers. So, how can you (and us) play a part in decreasing food waste? Well…
Meal Prepping Aids in Reducing Food Waste
We’ve taken it upon ourselves to better understand and help solve the problem of food waste in America (and around the world); how to meal prep with more of the plant and how to save money doing it. More than that, we posted some delicious recipe ideas that you can use today to meal prep with a conservationist’s mindset while satisfying your hunger for fresh, yummy food.
Is wasted produce such a problem?
Yes! It is a staggering problem. According to farmers, depending on variable weather conditions, it is usually the case that between 20-50% of their annual harvest winds up in landfills every year! And when this produce rots in landfills it emits methane gas which is not beneficial to the environment. In fact, quite the opposite.
We have a culture that demands uniformity-even in the fruits and veggies that we buy. But this beauty contest is costly for growers. Every wasted morsel costs the farmer in seed, space and resources, so every piece of produce that doesn’t make the cut and is thrown away hurts growers in the pocket book. And, you guessed it, it eventually hurts you, the consumer, because the cost trickles down to you.
To better understand the food waste problem and how to help solve it, we partnered with Ugly Produce is Beautiful℠ (UPIB) to raise more awareness and present solutions!
Who is Ugly Produce is Beautiful?
The goals of the Ugly Produce Is Beautiful℠ Educational Campaign are multifaceted.
We want to be the catalyst of the change at all levels of the supply chain, the only change that will be sustainable and create a true revolution. This movement born in Europe is also in need of an umbrella organization that dispenses information about the ugly produce problem. The issue is complex as it touches upon and interlaces with many important social, political, economic, health, and environmental issues, already on an active discussion table.
What is ugly produce and why should we want it?
Ugly produce is the “wallflower” at the local greengrocer. It is the root vegetable that hits a stone while growing deep in the ground so it’s growth is forced to be diverted to the left or right. It is the strawberry plants that grow too close together that end up fusing together making a double or super strawberry. They all taste exactly the same as their beautiful cousins, but look like they belong on the Island of Misfit Produce.
We should want to eat ugly fruits and vegetables because we know that what grows in nature, a large percentage of time, is not the waxed, glamorous stuff you see on store shelves, but the uniquely misshapen or weather-scarred that doesn’t make the cut. Perfect produce is not the norm. We should want to use unattractive produce because we don’t want to waste, and we do want to save money. Additionally, we can use parts of the plant that are completely edible and usable instead of throwing them away. And is you hear news about the Clean 15 or Dirty Dozen, read about what real dietitians have to say about these scare tactics here: https://mealpreponfleek.com/dietitians-react-to-the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-fifteen-produce-list/
Where can you find ugly produce?
Farmer’s markets are a good place to start to find these discounted treasures. Farmer’s that can’t sell to the stores but want their hard work rewarded instead of going in the trash, will find a way to sell their peculiar at farmers markets because they are exempt from the USDA beauty standards, but tasty good food at these markets at a fraction of the cost. We’ll bet that if you look, you might find one close by. If not real close, it’s might be worth a trip out to the country to try one.
Some who have taken up the crusade of promoting fruits and veggies, known as seconds in the industry, have encouraged stores to buy the produce anyway and sell it to consumers at a markdown price. And you can join them by encouraging the local store where you shop to not reject the misfits, but to put them on display at a slashed price.
Join us in this awareness campaign for Food Waste and Ugly Produce by sharing this post on social media, emailing it to a friend, or simply making one of these recipes: http://www.uglyproduceisbeautiful.com/recipes.html