The Unwanted and Imperfect Food

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How do we choose our items at the grocery store? Do we want the most perfect individuals of all the tomatoes available? Do we have an image in our head how cucumber is supposed to look like? The farmers and producers know we do.

Even though 43% of food waste occurs at the home level (ReFED), wasteful food consumption habits are not only about people buying more than they can or are willing to consume. How does the food need to look like, so people want to buy it? Maybe the manufacturer is changing the logo and packaging, and the oldfashioned ones are not wanted anymore? The quinoa mix is supposed to be 50% dark 50% light-colored, but it is 70-30 instead, so it has to go. The supply chain wastes food for several reasons, such as; Surplus or excess inventory, “Best before” -date approaching, packaging changing, parts of fruits and vegetables being undervalued, or items being off-spec.

Of course, farmers don’t throw all of the wrong sized or shaped crops to the landfills. Unapproved vegetables and fruits can be placed to the composts and become soil again, or they can be sold to the juice, jelly, and jam factories or fed to animals. Some companies donate unwanted food items to food banks. But this is not enough. Almost 20% of the food waste in the USA happens at farms or production facilities (ReFED). We can help to bring that number down too! It’s time to stop seeking perfection while we have to change our attitudes and shopping habits.

Imperfect yellow squash and undervalued radish pods from my garden. Fantastic ingredients.

Some companies around the world bring unwanted or unsuitable food to the markets. In 2014 French’s 3rd largest retailer created a campaign called “The Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” (video). In the USA, companies such as Imperfect Foods, Misfits Markets, and Hungry Harvest (among others) deliver boxes of not perfect groceries directly to consumers. My family has been a customer of Imperfect Foods for four months now, and we appreciate this solution.

What do you think – could this be one of the ways you can help the Earth?

Featured picture: Andrew Martin Pixabaystä

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