Trends and fads in the nutrition world are constantly changing. This is where my absolute nutrition nerd comes out — I am totally fascinated with hearing the latest and greatest health and wellness trends (chlorophyll and spirulina, anyone?!). 10 years ago, low-carb and Atkins diets were the biggest thing since sliced bread (pun intended). Now, the world is asking for more transparency and sustainability in their food ventures, requesting ‘farm-to-fork’, ‘all-natural’, and ‘non-GMO’ foods in restaurants and grocery stores. Traditional farming practices are under the lime light, advocacy groups are petitioning for legislation change, and brands are adjusting their development strategy based on consumer demands. And to be honest, I couldn’t love it more! Go You, World, for demanding that the food industry shape up or ship out. Don’t ever question yourself when asking for confirmation that your guacamole did, in fact, come from an avocado rather than a green food dye and mayo. But besides the food that is on your plate, it’s so important to know the whole story and arm yourself with information about what’s going on behind the scenes, like all the food that didn’t make it to your plate, and never will, because they were never given the chance to try. (Cue violins.)
The man who started the Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Campaign is a legend in my book. Facts I didn’t know: we waste 20-40% of fruits and vegetables worldwide, rejecting millions of perfectly nutritious produce based solely on aesthetics. Meanwhile, millions of people around the globe go hungry, living in undernourished communities with limited access to the very same foods we overlooked. Often times, produce is rejected by a retailer (or doesn’t even make it past the farm), and ends up in a landfill releasing methane into the air, which contributes to the buildup of greenhouse gases and climate change in the environment. Mega downward spiral, if you ask me! Food waste is such a huge problem, and it is totally up to us to stop the trend. So finally, a true activist and veggie superhero decided to shed some light on the issue by calling out consumers and retailers alike to change their ways.
Retailers normally reject this ‘imperfect produce’ because they feel it won’t sell, but the Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Campaign is encouraging all retailers to purchase the produce regardless and sell it with a 30% – 50% markdown if needed, therefore minimizing food waste as well as increasing fruit and vegetable access to shoppers on a tight budget. The campaign has been vastly successful in outreach efforts to Whole Foods, triumphantly landing ugly produce in Whole Foods stores nationwide. Now he has turned his efforts to Walmart, another massive offender of rejecting less than perfect produce. He is also urging consumers to understand that ugly fruits and vegetables are not any less nutritious than their better-looking counterparts. (Shout out to moms everywhere, teaching their children that it’s what’s on the inside that matters.)
Being a huge fan of farmers markets, I have made it somewhat of a game to look for ugly produce everywhere. Not only does this help with the campaign, but it also helps the community by buying local (ten points for Gryffindor!). My most recent find (pictured above) were two massive, juicy heirloom tomatoes. Packed with nutrients out the wazoo, I am daydreaming about turning these bad boys into a margherita pizza when I get home tonight. Because this is how I do Saturday night turn up.
So here is your own personal call to action, by yours truly: check out where you can buy ugly fruit and vegetables near you. Stay informed. Sign petitions like this one: What the fork are you doing with your produce Walmart. If you’re a social-media guru, lend some love to the campaign and follow their social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). Buy Ugly Produce. Feed to guests and observe. Did anyone notice a taste difference? Nope. Did you just do your part to help reduce food waste? Yeah you did. High five, homie. One step closer to a hunger-free world.