For fruit and vegetables, it is all in the looks

When faced with the decision of what to eat, our search often begins with our sight and not with our taste. Most students of online culinary schools would agree that the food that look the best must also taste the best, but this is not necessarily true. An organization in Portugal is making a stand to change this double standard. The company is called Fruta Feia, or “ugly fruit” in English. A fitting name for a company with such an initiative.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Fruta Feia has decided to tackle a difficult objective. Often, consumers have a preconceived idea of what an apple, cucumber or tomato should look like, and when the product available doesn’t meet those qualifications, it is often left and discarded. National Public Radio’s Barbara J. King wrote of large amount of food waste that grocery store regulation and consumer choices have caused for the world. This aspect of food waste is at the center of Fruta Feia’s mission.

The New York Times writer Raphael Minder took a shopping trip with Fruta Feia’s founder, Isabel Soares, to see first hand what ugly fruit is. Soares handled a few yellowing spinach leaves and tomatoes that were speckled with sun spots and bites from insects to show as example.

Organic produce is known for its variegated qualities, which may offer the chance for ugly fruit to be incorporated into the farmer’s market pick of the day. Some other vegetables that often make it past the aesthetic test are heirloom vegetables, cherished for their individuality. It is the traditional produce that is at the source of Soares’ goal.

Ugly fruit is on the move
Soares’ program began with a grant from the Portuguese government. She partners with volunteers and local farmers to gather food that is either deemed ugly or left unsold at markets and grocery stores. As of now, Fruta Feia has sold over 21 tons of food. The idea has caught on. Members of other European countries are attempting to bring the ugly fruit market to their homes. In England, Dorset County is teaching locals about the logic of ugly fruit. Their goal is to prove that looks do not effect the taste or nutritional value of the products. Spain is expected to start its own version of Fruta Feia in the near future. Many cooks will likely begin to adapt this alternate form of produce, proving that there is no use in wasting taste.

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