There is a saying that goes:"beauty is within”. It applies to many situations in life, but it is particularly true for the fruits and vegetables sector. When consumers go to a supermarket and find themselves in the fruits and vegetable section, ready to choose what they will take home: is there something that guides their decisions? Why do they decide to buy one product instead of the other? Can they define the difference between ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables and ‘beautiful’ fruits and vegetables?
According to FAO, 45% of fruits and vegetables are lost in the supply chain - meaning from production to distribution of these products. To discard these products,aspects such as whether they have any deformation or bulge, their size and, in some instances, the fruits and vegetables are scanned to check that they meet specific requirements in their composition.
This translates to approximately 1.3 million tons of food every year that go straight to waste because they do not meet the standards of beauty.
However, is there any nutritional reason linked to this practice? The reality is that there is not. Imperfect fruits and vegetables have the same amount of nutrients as the rest. They are just as healthy and have been grown in the same way as the rest.
Fortunately, in recent years this prejudice has been breaking down. The buying and selling of imperfect fruits and vegetables has been strongly promoted with movements like UglyFoodAndVeg
That Moment When @OddboxLDN Found A Strawberry Bird! 🐤🍓#BerryBirdie pic.twitter.com/EELtxUwzib— Climate Action Now! (@UglyFruitAndVeg) September 19, 2017
Some outlets that have given these fruits and vegetables have been converted into jams, soups or products where their aesthetics do not affect what they carry inside. The important thing, in the end, is the taste. Initiatives such as Espigoladors recover these foods and put them in pâtés, jams and sauces.
Other initiatives dedicated to recovering these foods and that have given them the life they deserve are Perfectly imperfect produce, Imperfectus, Imperfect food, Misfits Market or Full Harvest, successfully opening new windows to the fruit and vegetable trade that until now had no outlet except for waste.
These success stories have, inturn, opened supermarkets around the world to consider the initiative to have fruit and vegetables "unique", such as "Produce with Personality" of the Giant Eagle supermarket, "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables" of Intermarché or the bet made by the Raley's chain to buy imperfect fruits and vegetables and increased consumption of pears for being"different".
Being different has represented something negative when acquiring fruits and vegetables, but the last years has become a trend and a challenge to change the standards through which we measure the products we consume. Eliminating these preconceived ideas will help us make a more effective supply chain and save millions of fruits and vegetables from loss.
Are you ready to join in and see fruits and vegetables for their flavor and inner beauty?
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