From Tesco’s poached pears to Asda’s wonky box and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s parsnips, Britain’s piles of Frankenstein-like produce are being brought out of the shadows and into the aisles.
It’s a cause we can all get behind as we work together to reduce the the UK’s staggering levels of food waste, as set out in our Waste Not Want Not campaign. After all, it’s hard to argue that perfectly tasty produce that doesn’t meet certain cosmetic standards should be left to rot. But when it comes to sharing the love, we would rather post a picture of a perfectly presented zucchini salad on social media rather than a twisted-up courgette.
One-in-five Brits shared a picture of food on social media or with a friend in the past month, according to a recent Waitrose report. People are splashing out on Instagram-worthy plates to make sure their snaps look their very best, and 44% of us will primp and preen our dinners to make them camera-ready.
Sharing pictures of wonky fruit and veg online? Not so much. At least here in the UK. In America, several campaigns have taken the fight for less fortunate veg to Instagram to show just how beautifully ugly it can be. Here’s our pick of the best.
The Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign says it uses “funny, beautiful and amazing images of less than perfect produce in order to highlight the 20-40% of all produce that goes to waste due to strict grocer cosmetic standards”.
Photographer and food expert Sarah Phillip founded Ugly Produce is Beautiful and made misshapen fruit and veg into an art form.
Ugly carrots and red okra are so healthy for you! 📸 Sarah Phillips @food. There have been innumerable research all over the world that strongly suggest having an assortment of fresh (organic) whole fruit and vegetables on a regular basis is far better than going for supplementary tablets to get the wholesome nutrition you need. #UglyProduceIsBeautiful #eatuglyproduce #allproduceisbeautiful #eatasnatureintended #buylocalproduce #heresmyfood #colorsoffood #redokra #purpleokra #carrots #sarahphillipsfoodart #foodcollage #dscolor #protectwhatisprecious #organicproduce #thyme
“Much of ugly or imperfect produce is thrown away and is part of our growing food waste system,” reads her website. ‘This is a global movement of producers, retailers, restaurants and consumers to create awareness and revolution in the food industry by increasing the consumption of “ugly” fruits & vegetables, and to reduce the resulting food waste and pollution.’ The movement also launched Farmer Share– a community initiative which allows consumers to sign up and receive 3lbs of ugly produce each week straight from farmers who have had the stock rejected by supermarkets.
With the help of some googly eyes, Imperfect Produce wants to find a home for ‘produce born to stand out’. The retailer delivers a range of funny looking fruit and veg boxes at a 30-50% discount to their more appealing counterparts found in the supermarket.
The UK has made big strides on ugly fruit & veg already. Tesco is the wonkiest of the supermarkets, selling 15 lines and attributing 40% of its strawberry sales this year to Perfectly Imperfect punnets.But more could still be done. And in these Instagram-obsessed times, better UK efforts to ensure sure ugly veg has a beautiful social media presence could make a big difference.
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