According to Tristram Stuart’s website, 20-40% of UK produce is rejected before reaching shops, primarily because it doesn’t meet aesthetic standards. Some stores are beginning to market this produce, sometimes at lower prices, which creates a whole new set of questions and issues. If there’s nothing wrong with the fruit then why is it being sold for less? Will buying this produce be seen as a low-income option that is then stigmatized?
There is so much diversity in the forms that fruit and vegetables take, and the general public is not exposed to this variety due to the limits on what is carried in grocery stores. Artist Uli Westphal photographs these ‘mutant’ foods, highlighting both the beauty and diversity of the plants, but also raising questions as to why this food is invisible to consumers.
As conscious consumers, we may need to reevaluate the way we choose and value produce. While much food waste occurs higher up the value chain, it can also be within our control to pick the fruit and vegetables least likely to be purchased from grocery stores in order to create demand for such produce.
So next time you go to the farmers’ market, maybe ask for a bag of “seconds” (apples are a good bet for this option). Most likely they will be perfectly edible, and even if you find them visually unappealing, you can always get creative and make sauce, fruit salad, or a pie!
Maybe you’ll end up with something in your grocery basket as hilarious and delicious as this parsnip…