Have you been running across more misshapen potatoes than ever before? Do carrots seemed more crooked? It's not just you: Farmers markets have offered anomalous produce for years, but now some stores across the country are selling less-than-perfect fruit and veggies—and Whole Foods just announced it's playing in the weird-lookin' food sandbox too.
The supermarket chain, in conjunction with Imperfect Produce, will begin to sell cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables in a few Northern California stores starting in April. Whole Foods already makes use of not-conventionally-pretty produce in its prepared foods and juices and smoothie bars—and they have in-store composting. The company started feeling some pressure last year from a Change.org petition that garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
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Finding new markets for ugly produce solves several problems at one time. First, it reduces the amount of food waste. NPR estimates that between 5 and 30% of a harvest can wind up in landfill. That's shamefully inefficient. Second, funky foods sell for less, making healthy fruits and veggies accessible to more consumers on a budget. At Giant Eagle supermarkets in Pennsylvania, a chain that's also embracing the "surplus" market, a 4-pound bag of blemished navel oranges costs $2.99 while the usual bag goes for $4.99.