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Why We Show Love to Imperfect Produce

It’s no secret that Mother Raw is all about the #plantloveWe think eating more juicy, crunchy, and shareable plants just makes sense, and that includes the misshapen ones. We don’t discriminate!  

The truth is, millions of pounds of food are wasted each year while others struggle to access or afford it.* By over-looking fruits and vegetables with harmless imperfections, we waste the time, money, energy, water, land and human labor that’s gone into growing them. All these wasted resources result in perfectly good food adding to already-crowded landfills; and we’re not down for that! 

Those funny looking carrots with two tails, lumpy strawberries, and odd-shaped peppers all have just as much delicious flavor and nutrients as their ‘imperfect’ counterparts. We admire Mother Earth for all of her beautiful and versatile bounty - no judgement here. 

 

What defines imperfect produce? 

  1. Abnormal sizing: Tiny onions or oversized potatoes are often overlooked simply because they don’t fit the normal size of what we perceive those veggies to look like.  
     
  2. Misshapen: Those eggplants with bubble-like bumps and lemons with extra grooves and ridges are just as flavorful as the rest. But unfortunately, misshapen produce usually doesn’t even make it to grocery stores. What a shame! 
     
  3. Scarring and bruises: Bruised produce is one of the biggest contributors to food waste. A small brown bruise on an apple doesn’t make it inedible! Fruits and veggies grown outside endure the Earth’s harsh elements, plus transportation from the farm to your local grocery store, so it takes a few hits here and there. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of your plate.  
     
  4. Discoloration: Discolored produce could come from a variety of things - time in the sun, bruising, or sometimes there’s no reason at all! That’s just how Mother Earth works. You may think there's something wrong with your orange-and-red-striped bell pepper, but we think it’s a hidden gem that’s packed with goodness. 

  

Why we love natures little imperfections 

We love imperfect produce for more than what’s on the surface. These humble and wholesome crops can have significant impact on the environment and our wallets. Here’s how, and why it’s important.  

 

Reduces food waste 

Buying imperfect produce is a no-brainer way to reduce food waste. According to a 2018 report from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), 168 million tons of food are wasted in just North America each year.* By purchasing – and eating – imperfect fruits and veggies, we’re reducing a significant amount of waste that would otherwise further pollute the planet. We think that’s a win!  

 

Reduces water waste  

As you might expect, growing produce requires an incredible amount of water. In a recent ReFED report, about 21% of water used to grow food is wasted solely because of the food Americans throw out each year.* Just because we don’t like their odd shapes and colors, we’ve wasted water in the process. Utilizing these misfit fruits and vegetables reduces water waste – it's that simple! 

 

Shows farmers some love 

Imperfect produce is a natural part of farmers’ yields. No two plants grow alike and there will always be a variety in shape, color and sizeMother Earth isn’t perfect and that’s what we love about her! 

Purchasing imperfect produce ensures farmers time, money and other resources don’t go to waste, so they can continue to provide us with healthful and delicious goods. Buying from local farmers makes a big impact on your community and your own personal healthy habits. Show them some love! 

 

Makes plants more accessible  

Eating goofy-looking fruits and veggies are a fun way to eat more plants and make them more accessible. These imperfect plants are usually sold at lower prices, making them more available to those who may not be able to afford the quantity or quality of produce they’d like.  

 

How you can make a difference 

Companies are recognizing that imperfect produce does have a place alongside their more appealing counterparts. Grocery stores and imperfect produce box subscriptions are popping up all over North America. Next time you’re in the produce aisle, see if you can spot some misshapen produce that may need some love and taste them for yourself! 

To get your hands on imperfect produce, ask your local retailer or check out these delivery services that are doing it right and spreading the #plantlove 

Imperfect Produce  

Misfits Market 

Hungry Harvest 

Food Fund 

Flash Food 

 

RAWesome references: 

*fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/ 

*http://www3.cec.org/fw/food-waste-reports/ 

*https://www.ceres.org/news-center/blog/why-food-waste-means-water-waste 

 

By Hannah Cordi