I love the underdog. Being one myself, my affection for anything less than mainstream is extraordinarily high. Which brings me to ugly produce, the- you’re-not-good-enough edible underdogs. Did you know that 26% of all produce is wasted in the United States before it hits the store because grocers choose to adhere to strict cosmetic standards for fruits and vegetables?
About six weeks ago I was pinged on social media by the one and only Jordan Figueiredo, the California zero-waste professional and food waste activist who loves the underdog as much as I. He asked for support spreading the message of his brainchild—the @UglyFruitAndVeg campaign. I was immediately on board.
Hunger relief is one of my charges. When researching for What The Fork, I learned that, “Roughly one third of all food production worldwide gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems. Almost half of this quantity is the result of retailers and consumers in industrialized regions discarding food that is fit for consumption. The total quantity wasted is about 300 million tons, which is more than the total net food production of Sub- Saharan Africa. It would be sufficient to feed the estimated 900 million people hungry in the world.” (United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization)
Jordan and I put our heads together, pooled our resources and decided to partner with Change.org to petition Whole Foods Market and Walmart to stop massive food waste by selling and promoting “ugly” produce (#uglies). The games began last week and it’s been and continues to be a wild ride for a really good cause. So I am asking for your support in our #WhatTheFork campaign to #endfoodwaste.
If these SUPER markets agree to stop massive food waste by selling cosmetically “less than perfect” produce in a fun public campaign in their U.S. stores, they will:
1. Be able to sell perfectly nutritious and delicious produce for a 30-50% discount off of "regular" produce.
2. Conserve water since 80% of fresh water goes to agriculture (USDA).
3. Help ease climate change as our food system is responsible for 33% of our human-made greenhouse gas emissions (GRACE Communications Foundation).
4. Help fight hunger and malnutrition where:
1 in 6 people in the U.S. are food insecure or do not know where their next meal is coming from (Feeding America), and
More than 4 in 5 people in the U.S. are not eating enough fruits and vegetables (CDC).
Back in March, I shared the TEDx Manhattan stage with Food & Wine Editor in Chief, Dana Cowin. In her talk—How Ugly Unloved Food Can Change the World—she posited, “If we can take what we once thought was ugly, and see it as beautiful, we can reduce food waste and change the world.” In France there is Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables (France) and Imperfect Produce is starting to make waves in the U.S. Thus, the #LoveUglyFood movement is slated. So why haven’t two of the most influential and highly visible “markets” in the United States taken a stand to make a real difference in the food waste arena?
Our Change.Org Petition will hopefully prompt these food influencers to do the right thing but it will go nowhere without your support. So please sign the petition and share on social media (see sample post below)!
#WhatTheFork are you doing with your produce @WholeFoods and @Walmart. Sell #uglies http://chn.ge/1Go9oyV
Stirring the Pot is back with 2 new shows per month on WPPB 88.3 FM so don’t forget to tune in Thursdays at 5:30pm (with an encore Saturdays at 10:30am). This week it’s First Bites and surely check out the Weekly Yum Recipe.