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.
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.
If produce is headed for your juicer, it doesn’t really matter much how it looks. Here’s a look at why ugly produce is so ideal for juicers:
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. It 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?
It can be challenging to find it. Some major groceries — such as Walmart and Whole Foods — abandoned their pilot programs aimed at selling ugly produce.
But you’re not without options if you’re interested in seeking out these foods. Take a look at these internet start-ups:
If you live in an area that isn’t served by these delivery services, reach out to the people at your farmers market. See if they would be willing to start an “ugly” section, and be sure that the produce is misshapen, not going bad. (Tip: Search for a local farmers market on this website.)