Perfectly, Imperfect Produce

When we go to the grocery store, we spend time digging through the produce section to find the best looking fruits and vegetables: perfectly round, brightly colored, and bruise-free. However, the way they look has little to do with their nutritional value. “Ugly” produce is just as nutritious and tasty as “beautiful” produce!

Unusual shapes

Odd shaped fruits and vegetables are not any less nutritious than their better looking counterpart. The unusual shapes are due to environmental factors during the time of harvest and growth of the produce (2). This includes weather conditions, temperature, uneven manure, insufficient water, poor pollination, etc.

Bruises and wrinkles

Produce that appear bruised are still usable and does not indicate that the produce is spoiled. Bruising is often caused by the shipping and handling of the produce. It’s okay if there are appearances of wrinkles on sensitive produce, such as grapes and berries. Because of their thin layers, these produce can be easily damaged. Although they may appear spoiled, it may be due to the fact that they have been crushed (1). With fruit, often times their soft texture simply means that they are ripe and ready to eat!

Stay away from buying bruised and wrinkled produce by looking out for the obvious signs of spoilage and mold. If the produce feels squishy, is highly discolored, has a rotten odor, or the skin peels or wrinkles with the slightest touch, then it’s most likely inedible (1).

Saves the environment

Did you know, rejected “ugly” produce calculates to about 40% of the food waste in the United States (3)? Grocery stores tend to stay away from buying fruits and vegetables that doesn’t meet their standards of appearance, leading farms to add the unprofitable produce to waste. Therefore, pounds of edible food are being discarded without ever leaving the farm.

Luckily, there are organizations, and even some grocery chains, who embrace imperfect produce and support the movement to cut food waste. Organizations offer to deliver imperfect produce to your own home straight from the farm, while grocery stores are now giving less attractive fruits and vegetables a starring role in their produce section (3). Check to see if there are any local organizations or grocery stores who support imperfect produce in your community!