Wonky fruit and vegetables: Why we all should love them and where to look for them

Photo by  Glen Carrie  on  Unsplash

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Food loss and waste is a great scourge of our time, especially given its social and environmental impact. More than 10 per cent of global population is chronically hungry and yet, at some point in the food supply chain, we lose or waste a third of all food meant for human consumption. Moreover, producing food accounts for 10-12 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – primarily nitrous oxide from crop production and methane from meat and dairy production.  It is estimated that food waste alone may account for up to 16 per cent of the environmental impact of the agri-food chain. 

A recent study by the University of Edinburgh reveals that more than 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown across Europe are discarded each year, largely because they do not meet supermarkets’ and consumers’ aesthetic standards. This unnecessary loss and waste arises from cosmetic standards of produce in Europe and the UK and additional proprietary ‘quality’ criteria imposed by supermarket chains. Stephen Porter, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geo Sciences, said: “Encouraging people to be less picky about how their fruit and vegetables look could go a long way to cutting waste, reducing the impact of food production on the climate, and easing the food supply chain.", while Professor David Reay added: “The scale of food that is wasted when it is perfectly safe to eat is shocking at a time when one-tenth of the world’s population is perpetually underfed.”. While researchers indicate policy as a major driver for change, they also acknowledge that all major supermarkets in the UK publicly support the voluntary Courtauld 2025 Commitment of a 20 per cent reduction of food and drink waste by 2025. In order to meet this ambitious target, all major retailers have introduced a new wonky range of fruit and vegetables, with some supermarkets establishing programmes to donate edible surplus food to charities. At the same time entrepreneurs see the raised public awareness of food waste and wonky food as a business opportunity and new brands and businesses have been launched. Dash Water, Rejuce and Get Wonky now have a place in our fridge as well as the delicious raw vegetable hummus by ChicP. We highly recommend trying them all…no doubt you will love them! When buying fresh produce, you can look for Riverford Organic or – as non-organic alternative – try Oddbox, Wonkyvegbox or The Wonky Food Company.

Ready to fight food waste one wonky ingredient at a time?

To read more about wonky fruits and vegetables:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-45238732 and https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/01/new-juice-range-made-from-wonky-fruit-and-veg-aims-to-cut-waste

To know more about retailers tacking food waste:

https://www.hortweek.com/waitrose-launches-misshapen-vegetables-range/fresh-produce/article/1383796; https://my.morrisons.com/wonky-fruit-veg/; https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/mar/11/tesco-launch-wonky-veg-range-food-waste-fruit-vegetables; https://feedbackglobal.org/2018/06/food-waste-ranking/