Ugly Food movement finds beauty inside the vegetable

The UglyRipe tomato, which has only in the last few years become legal to sell in the U.S. Photo:

The UglyRipe tomato has been subject to trade restrictions based on perceived unattrativeness. Photo:

Now that kale has become mainstream, it’s time for a new food movement. The Ugly Food movement has been around since 2008. *sniff* I can’t believe you didn’t know about it! It’s really popular in Europe.

Here’s the deal with Ugly Food: Size, shape and color regulations in both the European Union and the U.S. are leading to striking levels of waste. A study done by the Dutch and Swedish governments revealed that nearly 90 million tons of food are wasted each year. A similar study in Portugal showed 20 to 40 percent of foods are wasted before making it to the supermarket.

Often food is tossed out for purely cosmetic reasons, which have no bearing on actual taste and nutrition of the fruit or vegetable in question. Tomatoes aren’t round? Can’t use them. Cucumbers curved? Absolutely not. Oranges shaped like a pear? Don’t even think about selling that.

Aren’t we taught not to deem internal worth by external appearance? At least, that is what my parents taught me. Does that rule only apply to people? After watching two seasons of Hannibal, the lines between people and food are blurring.

Annalise Clausen from sums up the idea: “I know that there is no taste difference, nutrient difference, and most times the ugly fruit tastes better because you can connect with it on another level, personify it, and maybe even make up a name for it.” So while we are wasting food at exorbitant rates, these underground food saviors are making healthy friends.

While ripe with good intentions, those most likely to embrace this movement can be found sporting bespoke tweed, monocles, and carrying brass telescopes inside satchels. No, not Benjamin Franklin; hipsters. But that is a blog post for another day! For now, it seems that ugly economic times call for ugly culinary measures.

The movement seems to have been driven by foodie hipsters, but that may be changing as ugly economic times call for ugly culinary measures. So, what are your opinions about ugly food? Does it make a difference if the ugly food is locally grown or from the supermarket? Let us know.

Kelly Bartlett’s internship at NCPR is supported by the Stan Macdonald Journalism Fund

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2 Comments on “Ugly Food movement finds beauty inside the vegetable”

  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Funny how things come around again if you wait. I guess my grandparents raising a family during the Depression were hipsters. They never took to herbicides and pesticides either.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    So much of today’s fruits and vegetables look good but lack taste. Almost impossible to find tasty pears and peaches. Good ones need to be eaten over the sink. They should not taste like cardboard.

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