Eat Your Ugly Vegetables

Embracing imperfect produce could put a big dent in our food-waste problem.

March 06, 2015

Follow @UglyFruitandVeg on Twitter and your feed will fill with heart-shaped spuds, bootylicious pears, and tomatoes doing Michael Jordan impressions. But the account, launched in December by Jordan Figueiredo, isn’t just for laughs. As the U.S. ambassador for Feedback, an organization dedicated to combating the global food-waste problem, Figueiredo is on a mission to keep good food out of the garbage: one misshapen carrot at a time.

In the United States, between 30 percent and 40 percent of all food is thrown away every year—wasted, too, is the water, land, and energy needed to grow and transport it. Making matters worse, once all that food hits the landfill, it rots and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

According to NRDC (disclosure), reducing food waste in this country by just 15 percent could feed 25 million hungry Americans—and the produce aisle is a good place to start. Grocery stores lose an estimated $15 billion every year in unsold fruits and veggies that they don’t even put on the shelves because they think customers will turn up their noses at anything with a bump or blemish. But that funky-looking fruit is just as nutritious and delicious as its pristine kin. So quit judging perfectly edible food by its cosmetically challenged cover and #DemandUgly. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. 

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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