Have you ever wondered why supermarkets don’t have shelves with uneven or ugly shaped produce? It is heart breaking to know that people throw away absolutely delicious fruits and vegetables just because they do not meet their arbitrary cosmetic criteria.
In older times, people used to consume all sorts of fruits and vegetables irrespective of their appearance. Farmers treated all their produce equally and sold at an open market where people could assess the quality by smell, looks, touch and taste. Yes, you read right- people could taste a sample before purchasing.
Due to urbanisation, many people prefer to shop for their food and groceries from supermarkets. There are many reasons that lead to this change such as the need for longer or untimely availability of open stores, climatic conditions and people’s preference to buy stuff from a controlled environment. Most of the supermarket suppliers now-a-days categorise their produce into sellable and waste.
Supermarket – Reasons for food waste
Thanks to poor climate control, contaminants, molds and pests; food waste such as imperfect produce is often averted by supermarkets. Hence, around 30-50 % of food waste is pooling from our uncompromising cosmetic standards. Biohazards like molds, parasites, bacteria, viruses and yeasts may produce toxins. Hence, most of the farmers use chemicals such as fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides to avoid loss of crop.
Crop rotation, natural pest control and barrier nets are the most efficient traditional ways of organic farming. They are less hazardous to everyone with the usage of natural byproducts, compost and animal manure. We all know, industrial agriculture is not sustainable. On the contrary, this type of organic agriculture manages more waste. These foods rich in micro nutrients are natural and fresh in taste. However, aesthetics are a bit compromised. Hence, they are often turned down by supermarkets.
A tiny idiosyncrasy in looks based on shape, size or colour normally has no impact on nutrition and flavour. People undervalue groceries with irregular sizes or cosmetic quirks. The EU legislation has restricted the sale of ‘Wonky’ veggies and fruits. Sometimes, it’s just that, the supplier offers surplus quantity and there is a food wastage due to drop in demand.
Food waste management ideas
Leathers or roll ups: If you have a leftover stock of unused vegetables, then use them in the making of vegetable leather. Almost all veggies and fruits can be frozen and dehydrated to make delicious edible leather that can be eaten just out of hand as a snack as well as used in a soup or stew to enhance the taste. This can make your over stocked fridge look less daunting.
Composting: It is a process to decompose organic material. Composting is cheap and easy way to get rid of food waste and use it purposefully. It reduces pressure on landfills, saves money, adds nutrients to soil and promotes good health to the community.
Animal feed: Feeding animals directly with left-over food is an easy way of utilizing it and preventing it from getting wasted. In some places, we can also donate our left-overs to nearby farmers who in turn uses it as fodder for their cattle. However, experts say that it is sometimes dangerous for the pets. You can contact your local solid waste plant, public health agency or agricultural extension authority for more information.
Smoothie, puree, sauce or soup: Blending a combination of curvy fruits and veggies, you achieve delicious and healthy smoothies. You can cook wonky or half used up or left over veggies or fruits to make delicious soups or purees. If you have a dehydrator, you can turn pretty much all your roots, veggies and many more to chips.
Read more about our article How is the Netherlands working towards food wastage?
With a mission crooked equals straight, Kromkommer shows in all aspects that curved fruits and vegetables are as tasty and nutritious as their straight ones. They also deserve a place on the supermarket shelves and our plates what they call- farm to fork.
1.The repeal of the European marketing standards, in favor of enforcing the general marketing standards that guarantee fresh, safe and delicious products.
2.Encouraging the retail sector to sign a covenant to relax its own quality standards and to focus on fresh, safe and delicious products instead.
The goal of Kromkommer is to not exist anymore. They want all the wonky fruit and vegetables to be available on supermarket shelves which leaves them no products. Thus, their products currently include wonky toys, an education project for schools and a book for kids. A fruit and vegetable play set together with a sustainable brand called Plantoys is the next big step.
Read more to know about Living healthy in the Netherlands
Image credits: Kromkommer and Imperfect foods