Ugly Fruit

In order to vastly reduce the number of sprays I confess to growing a lot of ugly fruit- this is especially true of apples where avoiding summer sprays often means apples covered from head to toe with sooty blotch and often fly speck. Most of my customers learn to love their ugly children, but I do produce pristine fruit for a few of them. Often this is to help them give their vast surpluses away.

I ran into this article today in the NY Times on a similar subject that I thought some of you might find interesting.

Well - Tara Parker-Pope on Health
Ugly Fruits (and Vegetables) Get a Makeover
By KAREN BARROW JUNE 24, 2015 2:00 PM June 24, 2015 2:00 pm
Slide Show
Not all carrots look alike, but you wouldn’t know it from scanning the shelves of your local supermarket.

Supermarket chains often display only the most perfectly shaped apples, potatoes and other produce for their shoppers. The rest may get cooked for the store’s prepared foods or, more often, tossed out with the garbage.

“Most consumers buy their fresh products based on aesthetic criteria: If the product looks good, then it must taste good,” said Patrice DeVilliers, the photographer behind a campaign changing the way French consumers view unattractive produce. Last year, these “ugly” fruits and vegetables accounted for 40 percent of France’s total food waste, according to DeVillers. “Fruits and vegetables are suffering from unjustified aesthetic prejudice,” she said.

The “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign was created for Intermarché, a supermarket chain in France, to see if customers would be willing to buy imperfect produce at a reduced price. The advertising campaign includes posters and television ads, including the one below in which an “Ugly Carrot” gets a pep talk. The goal was to reduce the more than 660,000 pounds of food wasted in the European Union each year.

It has been a year since this campaign was implemented, and the misshapen apples, potatoes and lemons were so popular with customers that “inglorious” produce is now being offered in all 1,800 Intermarché stores.

“These fruits and vegetables might be ugly, but they are as tasty as visually perfect ones,” said Ms. DeVilliers.


Brilliant. Thanks for sharing this, Alan. Very enlightening.

here’s a good exchange of ideas we have had about the same thing last year(in another forum)…

I’d think more like 660,000 tons per yr. 660,000 lbs is basically one peanut each for several hundred million people.

Makes one realize how much food it takes to feed everyone on earth.

Why wouldn’t the odd shaped fruits and veggies be carted off to canneries? Once sliced and diced then placed in a can or jar, who knew what shape it was in beforehand?

they are probably already doing that. It is just that the vast majority would rather eat fresh than canned.

I think that if you are hungry, the best part of any food is that it is not rotten. Some cannot be picky.

exactly. Not the trend in western nations, unfortunately. They should consign those unwanted leftovers to the gov’t’s of developing countries.
especially here in america, it seems to be one of the few countries where many of the people who have zero net worth, or negative net worth/have debts more than actual net worth-- also have high bmi’s.

in many developing countries, the poor legitimately look poor, being 10 lbs underweight, if not bordering severe malnutrition. Intriguingly in those countries, not many of the impoverished have negative net worth, because banks don’t trust the general populace, and will only lend money to those with properties/collateral.

My grandmother used to buy 50# bags of reject potatoes for a dime. It was a long time ago; so, that would probably translate to $1 today. I was very impressed by those potatoes. Some were lumpy shaped, but the main reason for winding up in the reject pile was that they were bigger than the standard for the grade. Even when I was young, I couldn’t understand how perfectly good produce could be considered a reject.

That comment doesn’t make sense in context with the quoted article, which was talking about fresh, shelf ready produce sold by a chain of grocery stores on a store by store level. However, in recent decades it has become easier for local stores to donate such produce to local food pantries and “soup” kitchens. In many locales, this involved changes in laws involving liability issues and Health Dept. regulations. That also involves “ugly fruit” and food waste reduction, and is much more sensible on a local basis with fresh produce.

The point of the article is not how food should be distributed. The main point is that chain has successfully educated consumers that aesthetics do not equal taste and function, and has reduced waste by doing so.

This might happen with some producers who have big enough volume and have the structure in place to make it happen. I do think that most produce that heads to canneries is grown specifically for that purpose, although I know of at least one apple orchard that wound up selling all of its apples to go into juice/sauce when they weren’t up to standard for fresh sales. ( Off Topic - I still don’t get how it makes sense for apples from the East Coast to head to China for processing and then back).

labor is cheap over there,and the trans-pacific shipment(to and fro) doesn’t really cost much, that the penny-pinching us-based companies could still make a considerably bigger profit compared to hiring americans! I’ve also heard of burger king’s and mcdonald’s chicken nuggets being usa-grown chickens shipped to china for processing, and then sent back here as nuggets.