Someone call the MythBusters cause I have a myth that needs some busting! “Perfect food is healthy food” -- I wonder when that thought got drilled into our heads. I have to be honest, I am a clueless shopper. I pick up the reddest apple, blemish-free bananas, and the most stock-image-esque tomatoes, thinking they are the definition of fresh produce. Taking a step back, I ask myself, do I really know what makes fruits and vegetables fresh? As much as I wish others had a better clue, this mindset and obsession with perfection is dangerously popular. So let’s take a second and think about it, what happens to all the food that doesn’t fit our unrealistic criteria?
It is no surprise that the US is a top contributor to food waste. For the past couple of years, it has retained its spot within the top 10 countries that waste the most food. According to an article by the Washington Post, the US alone has 63 million tons of food waste each year. Why is that? There are a lot of reasons behind this, such as inefficient farming, lack of proper storage or poor planning leading to food waste at home. But did you know that a lot of fruits, vegetables and products don't even make it to our grocery stores? According to ImperfectFoods, here are some of the reasons why.
(1) Cosmetic imperfections
Groceries pick up on our “perfect food is healthy food” mindset and do not want food unless they look “perfect”. That means fruits, vegetables and other products that have minor scarring, blemishes or damages never make it to the shelves. Time to apologize to all those blemished apples - It survived such a harsh winter for us, and all we did was put it away!
(2) Surplus/Excess inventory
As we all know - nature is unpredictable! How bountiful a harvest might be is a surprise for everyone. Often, farmers might find themselves with way more supply than they had planned for. Other times, the market can be overstocked with a particular “trendy” food item that causes grocery stores and buyers to back out of their order.
(3) Discontinuation of the product
When a brand goes through a packaging change or gets discontinued, a lot of the products end up getting stuck with nowhere to go. So if you’re into thrifting good vintage finds…
Do you find yourself looking for items with the longest expiration dates? While planning ahead makes sense, a lot of grocery stores won’t take items with expiration dates less than a few months away (when clearly I could inhale that bag of chips in two days).
(5) Undervalued products
Did you know that the broccoli crowns are only ⅓ of the whole plant? Don’t stop at the crown, eat the leaves and stalk as well! And this applies to other products’ ends and pieces as well. Perfectly good food goes to waste because the buyers and grocery stores just don’t see the demand for it.
One of the many fighters against food waste is “Imperfect Foods”. Founded in 2015 with a mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system, Imperfect Foods offer a delivery service of imperfect, but perfectly delicious produce, pantry items, eggs and dairy. So we decided to try it out! We chose the 1-2 people grocery plan, the “I eat it all” option (they have low carb, vegetarian and vegan options) and a combination of “regular” and organic items. For the products, we selected regular produce, the meat and fish pack, and the snack pack - they also offer a dairy pack and grains pack. They pre-select a bunch of items for you but you have the flexibility to adjust your order afterwards.
The order came super quickly and everything looked extremely fresh and fun! In honor of this important cause, here is a wonderfully delicious dinner made up of not-so-perfect products. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover!
We made roasted vegetables, grilled garlic parmesan crusted tomatoes and chipotle seasoned grilled turkey for dinner, with an apple galette dessert to top it all off. The best part? We still had plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week!
If you are interested to learn more about this cause and different ways to contribute, here are some resources that can help you fight against food waste.
Imperfect Foods: https://www.imperfectfoods.com/
Hungry Harvest: https://www.hungryharvest.net/
FoodCache app: https://furtherwithfood.org/resources/foodcache/
Misfits Market: https://www.misfitsmarket.com/
Article on how to reduce food waste at home: https://greatist.com/health/how-to-ways-reduce-food-waste#4