A (not) nice pear: How not choosing the apple of your eye and buying ugly fruit could solve food waste crisis

Their odd shapes or sizes, lumps or bumps and dimpled or blemished skin sees them cast aside by the masses day-in and day-out.

They are the millions of misshapen, neglected fruit and vegetables thrown away from supermarkets because today we eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs.

But French supermarket company Intermarché are spreading the message nutrition is not just skin deep with their simple and pioneering scheme to cut down on food waste, Glorify the Inglorious.

The campaign shows these weird fruits and vegetables in a different light in a variety of vibrant posters and a viral video on YouTube highlighting their alternative appeal.

These less to look at legumes are made even more attractive as Intermarché offers them to customers for 30% less than standard prices.

The supermarket’s scheme, launched in 2014, has gone down a treat so far with the Inglorious selling out in an initial rush and an increase in sales of 20% since.

So could this war against food waste be coming to Manchester? Foodcycle spokesperson Mary McGrath thinks all local and national supermarkets should follow suit.

GOING DOWN A TREAT: Intermarché’s ugly fruit and veg have been selling like hot cakes

She said: “Understanding the true value of food is something we all need to learn as the world’s resources become ever scarcer, over stretched and over utilised.

“As consumers we all pick the best looking fruit and vegetables from supermarket shelves – regardless of whether it has the best taste or nutritional content.

“Shoppers pick white cauliflowers over yellow ones and prefer perfect looking carrots over wonky ones.

“Supermarkets can help educate us into not looking for standard fruit and vegetables and offer wonky vegetables at lower prices.”

FoodCycle – based in London but with a Manchester hub – also do their bit to fight food wastage by taking unwanted and unused fruit and turn it into meals for those in need.

Ms McGrath added: “Here at FoodCycle – we believe no good food should go to waste – which is why we collect unsold fruit and vegetables from grocery stores across the UK, and turn this food deemed as waste into delicious three course meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.”

APPLE OF YOUR EYE: With fruit it’s what’s beneath the surface that matters most 

MM spoke to Chorlton organic wholefood outlet Unicorn Grocery were excited about Intermarché’s project.

A spokesperson said: “If it reduces food waste and makes food more affordable, it seems pretty good.

“Waste has always been something that is inconsistent with how we see our food systems working so from day one we have had systems in place that mean food waste is extremely low.”

It is not enough, however, to just tackle our aversion to poorly proportioned foodstuffs or indeed general ‘want not waste it’ attitudes in Manchester – it is something that needs to be resolved across the country.

The UK throws away 7million tonnes of food and drink every year, half of which is edible – 3.9million tonnes comes directly from food manufacturing.

MM got in touch with the local branch of national supermarket chain The Co-operative to find out whether or not they would consider partaking in glorifying the Inglorious.

The chain, widely known for its strong fair-trade stance, refused to comment on the scheme.

PRECIOUS PRODUCE: Even a wonky carrot will make a tasty soup

Intermarché’s campaign began on the back the European Union’s pledge to make 2014 the year that cuts down on food waste.

Every home owner in the whole country loses and average of £470 a year because of how much food is needlessly thrown away, according to Love Food Hate Waste.

LFHW’s sister organisation Wrap is a government backed recycling charity focused on changing our attitudes to discarding good food – they feel people need to have a greater appreciation of what they’ve got.

They said: “By buying misshapen or blemished fruit and vegetables, doesn’t mean you are sacrificing any of the taste. Food costs money and precious resources to produce, so we should value it.”

So the UK is taking some steps towards reducing how much food we waste but are we doing enough?

Or is the fun approach of Intermarché to make us realise that appearances are certainly not everything when it comes to our five a day the way forward?

One organisation with faith in the country’s supermarket’s current efforts is the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

STRANGE FRUIT (AND VEG): The right lighting and price can make any veg look tasty

They said: “UK retailers use a number of measures to ensure that misshapen fruit and veg is used and does not go to waste.

“UK retailers were highly involved in lobbying Europe to relax its strict marketing standards for fruit and vegetables in 2009. Since then supermarkets have been at the forefront of selling misshapen produce and promoting it to customers.

“Supermarkets sell a variety of ranges and those that are most affordable such as value or basics ranges enable suppliers to have greater manoeuvre in variety and appearance.

“In recent years retailers have been buying British fruit and vegetables to help growers left with bumper crops of blemished fruit and vegetables as a result of unseasonable weather, and committing to make use of all fruit and vegetables that meet regulations and that stand up on taste.

“The key is to make the most of the crop which all supermarkets are doing. This could be using the best of the crop for bagged or loose produce but looking for alternative uses for those that don’t make the grade i.e. pre-prepared produce, ready meals and soups.”

The fact that Intermarché’s video has gone viral clearly indicates an appeal to the campaign even if its subjects don’t fit the norm of attractiveness

There has also been many a call from the world of Twitter for the UK to join in and Glorify the Inglorious.

To find out more about the scheme click here. 

All images courtesy of Intermarché, via YouTube, with thanks

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