The pressure to look perfect is costing Australians, but not how you think. Beautiful fruit and vegetables are costing you more.
“If we were able to purchase more ugly fruit or veg, or ugly fruit and veg that doesn’t fit that perfect mould, perhaps we can see some cheaper produce on the shelf,” Louise Tram, spokesperson for OzHarvest, says.
That’s right. If consumers display a willingness to buy lopsided lemons and funky-looking zucchinis, supermarkets might begin to accept produce that isn’t picture perfect and eventually ends up in the bin.
According to Ms Tram, consumers can help to shift misconceptions about produce and help to change supermarket standards which cause around 20 to 40 per cent of Australian grown fruits and vegetables to be tossed out.
OzHarvest has tried to curb the problem since its inception 10 years ago. It has been able to save around 9,000 tonnes of produce from being thrown away.
Now, with these efforts, along with work from local growers markets, consumers can go out and seek the “ugly” produce, as a way to not only buy cheaper fruits and vegetables, but to hopefully shift supermarket standards and end a culture of waste.
Where to find ugly produce
There are a number of local growers’ markets located around Australia where consumers can go to find produce.
Ms Tram said if consumers went to these markets “you would notice that on a Monday they would have the most beautiful fruit and veg, and by Friday it starts to look a little bit less beautiful, and so the prices drop dramatically. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that produce.”
Effects of shifting to selling ugly produce
In France, local supermarket giant Intermache began a campaign where they sold ugly produce at a 30 per cent lower cost to bring awareness to food waste.
The project was so successful it reached 13 million people in one month and the fruits sold out, according to a campaign video from the company.
“Join groups like OzHarvest”
“What we recommend is potentially becoming a volunteer and joining organisations like OzHarvest, because we’re connected with growers, with farmers, with the food industry, we know where the need is,” Ms Tram said.
She said that if consumers go on a volunteer trip and help pick fruits or produce, they can take some of the produce home for free, which her organisation has done before.
Also, by joining the organisation consumers can learn where ugly fruit is going and get it a cheaper prices then you would at Coles, Woolworths, or other high end supermarkets.
OzHarvest suggests by bringing attention to the problem, and buying “ugly”, consumers can help make large supermarkets know they don’t want perfectly round apples or perfectly shaped vegetables, helping to get forgotten produce to the aisles at cheaper prices.