May 12, 2015 The small business of ugly vegetables

This article is part of a series called Hsie by Compass.

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If you’ve ever grown your own produce, you’ll understand the scale of natural ugliness. 

Agribusiness has yet to find a cure for looking stupid; fruits and vegetables naturally form obscenely bizarre shapes in the dirt and on the branch. The stuff you see in any Australian supermarket is selected to look as near perfection as possible, while it’s ugly brothers and sisters are sent to landfill.

All of this wasted food is still absolutely edible, just as healthy, and tastes the same. The standards of beauty for produce are clearly ridiculous, and in 2014 French supermarket Intermarche led the charge against food waste with their Inglorious Fruit and Vegetable campaign.

To prove to the public that just because a beetroot looks like something rude doesn’t mean it tastes like something rude, they made soups and juices from the deformed produce and handed it out, free, to customers.

Once they’d taste the free treats, customers were tempted to buy the knobbly crops, which were being sold a third cheaper than the supermodel produce beside it. The campaign was such a success that they continuously sold out and similar campaigns have now sprung up around Europe.

Australia has yet to adopt a similar campaign; are we so superficial?

This article is part of a series called Hsie by Compass.

Read the series >

Kate Cole
is a journalist, content producer, and graduate of the University of Sydney.