4 Beautiful Benefits of Ugly Produce

By: Suzanne Boothby

If you’re looking to save money while juicing and help reduce food waste, beauty is out and ugly is in. “Ugly” produce may be a little bigger, smaller or have a different shape than what you are used to buying at the store, but it delivers great taste and nutrition.

What is Ugly Produce?

Ugly produce is not the wrinkled or bruised stuff you see at the store. Instead, think twisty garden carrots or curvy cucumbers that don’t look like regular produce. In fact, most so-called ugly fruits and vegetables never make it to the store. Due to high cosmetic standards from supermarkets, a lot of ugly produce ends up in landfills instead of storefronts. Ben Simon, co-founder of Imperfect Produce, a California-based company that sells ugly produce estimates that about 20 percent of fruits and veggies grown don’t make it off the farm.

In the United States alone, more than 20 billion pounds of good, healthy produce goes to waste each year, largely because it is considered too unattractive to be sold to consumers.

Great for Juicing

1. Tastes as good as “good-looking” produce.

It may look a little funky, but you won’t be able to tell the difference from regular produce. Eliza Greenman, an apple orchardist, even believes that her ugly apples are more nutritious than her regular ones.

2. It’s a bargain.

Because it doesn’t look as good as regular produce, most supermarkets that carry ugly produce sell it for cheaper. Cheaper produce = more juice for your dollar.

3. Helps the planet

Ugly produce uses as much energy, water and natural resources as regular produce. When you buy it, you create further demand for it, which will help put imperfect produce on store shelves instead of landfills.

4. No hard feelings.

Now you don’t have to feel bad about juicing that “pretty” produce! Ugly produce won’t look so bad after it’s juiced. Once in your glass, it all looks the same.

Where Can I Find It?

Unfortunately, ugly produce can be hard to come by. Some big chains rolled out pilot programs last year in a few markets to test their viability. Wal-Mart launched a program to sell ugly potatoes in Texas and ugly apples in Florida, and Whole Foods began selling ugly produce last year at a few stores in Northern California. Look for “imperfect picks” at Harris Farm Markets in Australia. In New York City, you can buy ugly greens at a discount in many stores or look for “seconds,” which are fruits and vegetables sold at a discount at the Union Square farmers’ market.

A few internet start-ups have jumped on the ugly produce train as well. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, Imperfect Produce will deliver directly to your door for up to 50 percent off market price. Residents in the Baltimore, D.C., or Philadelphia area, can receive delivery to you door at a discount from Hungry Harvest.

If you don’t live in any of these areas, your best bet is to talk with providers at your local farmers’ market. See if they would be willing to start an “ugly” section, and be sure that the produce is misshapen, not going bad.

If you want to see ugly produce more available (and you want to save money juicing), ask your local supermarket to start carrying it. Endfoodwaste.org has conveniently compiled a list of the few stores who currently carry ugly fruits and veggies as well as direct links to the online comment forms of those who don’t

Suzanne Boothby

Suzanne Boothby is an author, journalist, writing coach and wellness instigator who has covered everything from spiritual workouts to kale cocktails. She is a freelance wellness writer for Omega Institute and has published stories on Yahoo! Health News, EdibleBrooklyn.com, NBCNews.com, Eatthispoem.com, and more.

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