For years, supermarkets around the world have been obsessively pursuing perfection controlling the size, consistency and color of everything they put on their shelves. Food standards, although well needed, have become ridiculously high; so high in fact that any fruit or veggie that isn’t pretty enough doesn’t make the cut, which in the end results in hundreds of pounds of perfectly tasty produce going to waste.
In the US alone, 52% of all fruits & veggies go to waste because they don’t fit the required standards.
Just like supermodels, fruits and vegetables are expected to be perfect. But as we’ve seen the beauty revolution lead by brands like Dove claiming “real beauty” and breaking the established stereotypes, the food revolution is under way.
“Imperfection and even outright ugliness—the quirky, the messy, and the flawed—are taking on new appeal in a world that’s become neatly polished and curated” JWT’S 100 Things to watch in 2014 report
French supermarket chain, Intermarché, was at the forefront of the movement by finding a way to put ugly fruits and vegetabes back on the shelves. The brand decided to celebrate the “Inglorious fruits & vegetables” for shoppers to see the inner beauty in scarred, disfigured, or otherwise odd-shaped fruits and vegetables.
They put the products on shelves for 30% less than perfect produce and they even made soups and juices out of them to help people realize that a crooked carrot or a disproportionate orange can taste just as good as their perfect (more expensive) neighbor. Brilliant if you ask me.
And the movement is spreading! Ugly fruits and vegetables are starting to show up everywhere as retailers around the world started noticing. A couple of examples: Safeway in Alberta put its “misfits” products on display, Billa in Austria offers a private label line of “nonconformist produce”, Edeka in Germany sells ugly produce branded “nobody is perfect” and a Montreal start up called Second Life is planning to launch an e-commerce so that people can grocery shop for the outcasts online.
The ugly food movement is timely as it taps into the larger consumer trend of anti-mass-industrialization towards a return to artisanal & craft and I think we will see it continue to grow.
Both in beauty and food, a little imperfection can be more authentic and charming than manufactured perfection. So next time you are rummaging through the apples at the supermarket, maybe you’ll want to remember that beauty is on the inside! 😉