In my TEDxToronto speech I called out the practice of wasting ‘ugly fruit and vegetables.’ I’m not the first one to make this plea and I won’t be the last.
The David Suzuki Foundation estimates that “Over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables in North America don’t even make it onto store shelves because they’re not pretty enough for picky consumers.”
The main reason that’s usually given for not selling ‘ugly’ food is that consumers will not buy it. A major retailler in France just challenged this assumption and found quite the opposite. Watch this 2.5 minute video and see how they’ve brought attention to this issue and celebrate the ‘ugly’ food:
Eating ugly vegetables can impact food security in many ways:
- They lower the cost of food. When 30% of a farmers work is wasted (in the form of ‘ugly’ crops), the remaining 70% is marked up to pay for some of the gap – by selling 100% of the food produced, the cost of food can be lowered per pound (while increasing overall profict for the farmer).
- They help protect the income of farmers. Although the remaining 70% of crops are marked up, they aren’t marked up the total difference. Michael Pollan said, “ We have rich farmers feeding lousy food to poor people and poor farmers producing great food for rich people.” By eating ugly vegetables we increase the yield of farmers by almost 50% of what they sell now.
- They boost profit for farmers. Any additional income made on carrots currently being wasted comes with little additional cost. This means the additional product can dramatically effect the take-home pay of a farmer. This is important as many farmers live near or under the poverty line (the minimum wage in Ontario does not apply to them) and this makes it prohibitive for youth to start farming in Ontario (as of 2006, 8.6% of Ontario Farmers were under 35 which was a 21% drop since 2001).
- It is better for the Environment. The increased yield per acre takes no additional resources (the food is already being grown) and eating it means a decreased need for additional aggressive farming techniques or consumption of land.
Please watch this video, share it and ask for ‘ugly vegetables’ and hopefully we’ll see something like this here soon!