Written by Priti Patel, Education and Curriculum Development
Take a closer look at the fruits and vegetables in your grocery store the next time you visit, and you’ll notice the symmetry and perfection of every apple, orange, cucumber, melon, and more. These perfect fruits and vegetables are selected and sold at supermarkets, while about 6 million pounds of fresh produce go to waste each year because of their imperfections (Osmanski, 2019). “Imperfect produce” consists of bruised fruits and asymmetric vegetables that are as nutritious and useful as “perfect produce.” Yet, they are thrown away because supermarkets are unable to sell them to shoppers. This is unfortunate because these fruits and vegetables are useful for cooking any recipe.
Recently, new companies including Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Foods are working to gather, sell, and deliver these disfigured fruits and vegetables in boxes through a subscription service. Not only are they able to effectively deliver produce to their customers’ doorstep, but they are also able to improve our environment by promoting more sustainable cooking practices. Food waste is actually one of the biggest environmental problems we have as over 4.2 trillion gallons of water and 2 billion pounds of fertilizer are used on crops that are never eaten (Atkin, 2019). Such a large quantity of water going to waste is a huge concern and unsustainable in the long-term. Additionally, nitrogen-based fertilizers have been known to contaminate waters and emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases (Atkin, 2019). In order to alleviate these issues, it’s important to prevent food waste in the first place. Cooking with any and every fruit and vegetable is essential to reduce overall waste. It is also important to make use of companies like Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Foods because they distribute fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to landfills. Purchasing and cooking with imperfect produce is a simple and effective way to be more environmentally-conscious in your everyday life.
Atkin, E. “Does Your Box of “Ugly” Produce Really Help the planet? Or Hurt it?.” The New Republic. https://newrepublic.com/article/152596/hungry-harvest-box
Healey, L. “Imperfect Foods deliver ‘ugly’ produce to your door.” Sauce. https://saucemagazine.com/a/58679/imperfect-foods-delivers-ugly-produce-to-your-door. Osmanski, S. “Cooking Sustainability: How to Cook More Zero-Waste with Ugly Produce.” GreenMatters. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/cooking-ugly-produce.