Are you put off by protruding parsnips? Or frightened by fearful looking fruit? Think again…
Did you know that more than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reach supermarket shelves because they are misshapen, unsymmetrical and discoloured? In support of Zero Waste Week, (3rd September-7th September) we want to share with you why this happens and what we can do to make a difference.
A recent study from the University of Edinburgh has shown that more than 50 million tons of fruit and vegetables are discarded each year. This monumental waste is principally due to strict regulations set out by supermarkets and the government. Produce may be rejected if it fails to comply with EU laws, as well as the supermarkets’ own strict standards of what is visually appealing to customers.
Is your squash too small? After harvest, produce is sorted according to size. Tons of fruit and veg are rejected for being too big, small or misshapen. Supermarkets want symmetrical produce to fit neatly and evenly into display cabinets, any shape otherwise is deemed unacceptable. They also want produce that looks beautiful, meaning scarred or discoloured fruit and veg go to waste. Despite having the same taste and nutrients as ‘perfect’ produce, those considered misshapen will have to wait for a juicer to show interest, or risk being binned. Stephen Porter of University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said, “Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste, reducing the impact of food production on the climate, and easing the food supply chain.”
As well as unsightly produce being disregarded, the problem also lies within the overproduction of food. Farmers contracted to supermarkets typically grow more food than obliged, to allow for a proportion that would be deemed unfit to sell. In order to tackle food waste, supermarkets must change their relationships with suppliers. A number of supermarkets are working with WRAP, ‘Waste and Resource Action Programme’ to do just that. WRAP have started a campaign ‘The Courtauld Commitment of 2025’, that gives the opportunity for all industry partners across the supply chain to come together and make a real step change in tackling food waste. Their aim is to cut the waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink by at least one-fifth per person in ten years.
Whilst supermarkets are doing their fair share; you at home can do the same. Support the companies fighting for the rights of ugly produce! Companies include Oddbox, Riverford, Able & Cole, Waitrose, Morrisons, and many more!
So ‘lettuce’ stand up and take ‘chard’ of our future! Join the fight against food waste and make your mark for zero waste week!
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.