BRITAIN–Jamie’s done it again – taken the road less traveled when it comes to food and exposed that lo and behold, consumers in Britain and surely elsewhere, have no problem buying what he terms ugly fruit and veg.
Tons of fruit and vegetables deemed not perfect enough for consumers is dumped each year or turned into animal fodder. At one Norfolk farm he visited, up to 10 tons of imperfect vegetables were dumped a week. As Jamie pointed out in his Food Revolution series, this is perfectly edible fruit and vegetables, with exactly the same nutritional value as its prettier peers, it’s just a bit more gnarly and quirky than its commercially acceptable counterparts.
Testing his theory about ugly fruit and veg
To test his theory that consumers were not averse to buying deformed vegetables, he placed cameras at a particular supermarket and viewed customer reaction to the not so perfect vegetables which were marked 30% off. To his delight, consumers bought with gusto – they understood that not all vegetables grown are perfect and they were definitely not repelled by their appearance.
I sincerely hope he starts a revolution, particularly with many families struggling to put fresh fruit and vegetables on the table. It starts with major suppliers. What large supermarket chains are failing to get is that not all consumers want picture perfect carrots. Ask any organic grower. Consumers are more informed than they’re given credit for. Many of us grow our own veggies and know that the tastiest tomatoes, for example, are not always the prettiest.
‘Beautiful on the Inside’ ugly fruit and veg
To prove his point, in January this year, Jamie approached the UK chain, Asda to test his theory and launched his ‘Beautiful on the Inside’ range. It’s working – consumers are buying. And why shouldn’t they? In a survey, 65% of people said they would buy the ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables and 75% said they would if the produce was marked down.
I would choose wonky any day. As a child, I remember pulling out carrots from my mum’s garden that were downright comical. Often, at least three roots curled around each other in a carroty embrace – quite unlike the straight as a pin packaged carrots in our supermarkets. They were eaten anyway. Potatoes often had extra knobs on them and the insect nibbled bits of cauliflower or broccoli florets were simply cut out.
Most of us are fine with a little imperfection. And if ugly fruit and veg comes at a reduced cost, even better. Best of all, our farmers could get a lot more value out of a crop rather than having to dump perfectly good fruit and veggies simply because it didn’t make the supermarket grade.
Jamie, I salute you. I, for one, will be first to sign up for the “ugly” fruit and veg revolution.
Bring on the gnarly, the discarded and disenfranchised produce.
Their time has come.
© Lois Nicholls 2015
Carrot image credit: Twitter