More are cooking with ugly produce

As you study the culinary arts, you will come to learn the importance of presentation. A well-trained chef is able to take his or her ingredients and prepare them in a way that is both flavorful and pleasing to the eye. When selecting ingredients, a cook might be tempted to start with produce as aesthetically pleasing as they wish their final product to be, but this is not always the case.

Recently, some chefs and food organizations have taken steps to make use of the fruits and vegetables others would turn down for appearance reasons. These individuals are looking to reduce food waste and feed people who are going hungry. The goal for these chefs is not to serve subpar food, but to look beyond appearance and use their talents to make a healthy, filling and beautiful final product.

Feeding the 5000
According to the National Resource Defense Department, over a third of American food ends up uneaten. This loss of consumable food is due to improper storage and transport, consumer waste and food not being aesthetically pleasing to retailers. Food sellers usually will not buy scared apples, misshapen potatoes or any other produce that doesn’t look good on the shelf. It is believed consumers will not buy them.

Feeding the 5000 is an event created to bring attention to this wasted food. Edible East Bay stated Feeding the 5000 was an event that began in London in 2009. It has been appearing in cities around the world and has found its way to the U.S. It is a public event offering all those who attend a delicious lunch made from food that would have otherwise been discarded. This event is now being hosted by a number organizations including Food Shift. Food Shit is a group promoting the retribution of possibly wasted food to people in need.

Imperfectly Delicious Produce
Imperfectly Delicious Produce is a program offering a more consistent use for ugly produce. Inside Scoop SF reported the program has purchased 35,000 pounds of produce other retailers would not. The produce has been used by restaurants, school cafeterias and many other meal providers managed by Bon Appetit Management Co. The program is still in effect and making use of aesthetically displeasing fruits and vegetables.

Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables
Food retailers and distributors are also taking step to reduce food waste. National Geographic highlighted the fact farmers are now partnering with juice companies to find a secondary purpose for unused fruits.

Grocery store retailers are looking for solutions on what to do with products their customers might pass by. The Ecology Global Network featured the story of French grocers that are calling attention to the plight of ugly food. In a program called Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables, French grocery chain Intermarché is promoting the fact it is trying to conserve natural resources by selling unattractive food. It has labeled produce with names like: the Grotesque Apple, the Hideous Orange and the Ugly Carrot. Customers will get a discount if they look beyond aesthetics and buy the uglier options.

What can you do?
The shape of a potato doesn’t matter when you care going to chop it up into hash. Think about what your culinary academy recipes call for in the final product and whether or not the food’s original shape or appearance will factor into the finished presentation. Working with unusual ingredients will not only offer a chance to do your part for conservation, but it might also give you a chance to rethink what appearance means to a dish.


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