Decide To Eat Odd Fruit and Veg: Food Waste Solutions
Problem: When food waste goes to landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas. It also wastes all of the water and other resources that went into making the food to begin with.
Solution: First, eat your leftovers. Second, buy odd-shaped produce. Third, compost the waste you do produce.
Between a third to a half of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. Food waste doesn’t just come from kids who won’t finish their vegetables. There is a large amount of food that doesn’t even make it to the store because it is not in the right shape (e.g. a potato with a little nob on the side), it’s too small (e.g. a shorter than average leek), or something that doesn’t fit into uniform packaging (e.g. those vine on tomatoes sometimes have more tomatoes on the vine than the package can handle, leaving an extra tomato).
Have you ever noticed that the produce sold at the farmers market looks a little different from the stuff in the store? Farmers markets are typically more willing to sell odd-shaped produce and, given nature doesn’t produce food with a 3D printer, we should be okay with this variability. Think of it as the body acceptance movement, but for food.
OddBox has a solution for this problem in London. They take the food that isn’t attractive enough for the store and deliver it to your home. You can subscribe weekly or fortnightly to a small, medium, or large box, and it can be just veg or a mixture of fruit and veg. There are different companies around the world that provide this service.
We noticed on our first shipment that the quality was great. We received a few things we wouldn’t normally buy as a part of our weekly shop and plenty of things we would. We’ll need to build our meal plan for the week around what we received but, given we consume a lot of fruit and veg, this should be easy.
One thing to note is that OddBox doesn’t scrub the food and package it the way a grocery store would. You’ll need a veggie brush. I also decided to buy some reusable mesh bags to contain loose veggies, as they didn’t come bagged.
I was encouraged to hear that some of the food not destined for stores is being used to help the food insecure. The U.K. charity Fare Share is trying to organise this at a local level. Keep in mind that Fare Share is only able to manage 5% of the surplus food in the U.K., so there is still a definite need for everyday people to purchase odd-shaped food. Join the ugly food movement!
Resources for Curious Minds
Food Waste (Wikipedia)
9 best vegetable boxes (The Independent)
The Ugly Fruit and Veg Directory (End Food Waste)