U.K. Politicians are Urging Supermarkets Not to Throw Away Ugly Fruits and Veggies
It's all part of an effort to curb food waste.
It can't be argued that un-bruised fruits and veggies of uniform size are easier on the eyes—and almost certainly destined for Instagram greatness.
But it's no surprise that our habit of prizing these foods above less "attractive" produce (or, as the Brits have dubbed them, "wonky veg") tends to lead to excessive food waste. In fact, on a global scale, one-third of all food intended for human consumption is wasted or unsalvageable. And in the U.K., where over £10 billion worth of food is tossed annually, that's something that MPs are determined to change.
This week, in a report published by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee discussing several ways to combat unnecessary food waste, the politicians appear to encourage supermarkets to embrace "misshapen" fruit. The chair of the committee, Neil Parrish, goes so far as to explicitly ask retailers to relax guidelines that require produce to be shaped a certain way.
"Retailers have demanded hugely high quality from farmers, which has led to consumers thinking produce grows straight in the real world—but it does not. But there is a growing argument now that we would eat more or just as much if it wasn't perfect," he wrote. "People would like to see a bit more misshapen veg, which proves they are a real, living vegetable."
For British farmers, the new report is a godsend, letting them sell more of their produce. Recently, British supermarket chain Asda has begun selling the imperfect produce in special containers lableled "wonky veg boxes." Fresh carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and more are priced at £3.50—30 percent cheaper than their better-looking brethren.
The whole thing just might be one of the first positive, tangible outcomes of Britain's exit from the EU. UK retailers have long been subject to a set of 10 EU legal standards dictating the proper size and shape of fruits and vegetables. Many imperfect varieties didn't make the cut. But in the wake of Brexit, these guidelines may be relaxed or even removed entirely.
We'll have to wait and see. Until then, across the sea, we'll be digging into our favorite "wonky veg" recipes in solidarity.