Supermarkets checkout lines are filled with magazine covers of photoshopped, liposucked, and unnaturally enhanced specimens of biology and reality. But the unrealistic expectations in our supermarkets don’t end there.
We like ’em big, round, smooth, and shiny. And of course now I’m talking about fruits and vegetables.
I love big beets and I cannot lie
Forty percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. This includes ugly fruits and lumpy vegetables. The cost to transporting food to our tables accounts for 10 percent of the U.S. energy budget, uses half of our land and 80 percent of the freshwater consumed. Yet, if a potato has an extra lump or an orange a strange phalange, they get tossed without a second thought.
More than 20 pounds of food per person is tossed every month. That’s $165 billion of wasted food each year. If only 15 percent of it were saved, 25 million Americans could be fed. Now that’s ugly.
(Stats from National Resources Defense Council report, Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill)
Bananas at the banana processing plant I visited in Costa Rica while researching Where Am I Eating? had to meet 40 consumer appearance requirements. Fifteen to twenty-five percent of the bananas do not and are discarded.
The produce section is a beauty contest void of dweebs, geeks, and weirdos.
A grocery chain in France, Intermarche, recognized that beauty may only be skin deep, but deliciousness is deeper. They bought the lumpy, blemished, and dull produce that the producers normally discarded, marked them on sale, and gave them their own display. Consumers saved money. Producers and retailers made more money. And all that energy, water, chemicals, fertilizers, and hard work that went into growing these formerly unwanted fruits and vegetables wasn’t for naught.
You can learn more about Intermarch’s efforts in this video:
Hat tip to the gang at Rule29, the folks who designed my site, for pointing me to this.