I was at the grocery store this afternoon and saw a colorful and inviting bunch of fresh, organic carrots. You know the ones I’m talking about that haven't had their feathery, green tops removed and aren't sealed into yet another plastic bag. I reached for a bunch and to my surprise there was a lone carrot that was crooked and not quite perfect. That carrot with its own personality put a big smile on my face and I knew it had to go home with me.
Over the years we've gotten accustomed to uniform produce. You rarely see an apple, banana, or onion that doesn't look exactly like all the others in the pile. In fact, when we visit farmers markets we purposefully look to see if all of the produce is uniform, perfect and without a speck of soil on it. That is a red flag to us that it has been bought from a wholesaler and is not from a local farmer.
A telling example of all the resources we waste by looking for perfection in produce is baby carrots. Did you know that baby carrots are deceivingly just cutouts of normal, ugly carrots that wouldn't otherwise sell? Imperfection in produce bothers us so much that we invest money, energy, and materials to create (and cleverly market) a whole new vegetable! We won't even get started on all the superfluous plastic that's used to package these new "perfect" carrots.
We need to change the way we look at produce and accept variations and a few blemishes. We're throwing away massive amounts of food in the search for perfection. This practice is neither realistic nor sustainable if we want to continue feeding a growing world population and reverse global warming. According to the book Drawdown, food waste contributes approximately 8% of the world’s greenhouse gases, and a third of the food raised doesn't make it from the farm to your plate. In the United States, about 16% of all food waste is directly related to imperfect produce.
20 billion pounds of food is getting thrown away each year in the US alone just because we prefer to look at pretty food.
We can help reduce that number through our daily decisions and actions. Be wild! Buy a carrot with a kink or a potato that has an indentation in it. We promise it will still taste delicious and you will be doing your part to reduce food waste and greenhouse emissions.