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The Grotesque Apple, the Ridiculous Potato, the Hideous Orange..
July 18, 2014 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Declaring 2014 the European Year against Food Waste, the European Parliament has adopted a non-legislative resolution that called for action to halve food waste by 2025 and improve access to food by the needy. French grocery store Intermarche got on board with a delightful campaign aimed at convincing people that appearances don't matter when it comes to great tasting foods and increasing awareness of food waste. The video is particularly charming.
posted by VioletU (41 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even among hipster foodies there's this attitude that anything that looks "weird" should be avoided. I have eggs as part of my CSA, and they ship them to the pickup spot in big crates and we pick out the specific six eggs we want. Once in a blue moon there's a green egg in among the others; each time I've seen it, my eyes light up and I grab it (come on, a green egg? THAT'S JUST COOL!), and the person handing the eggs out says that all the people who'd come before me were all freaked out when they saw it.

There may be some kind of weird hard-wired evolutionary thing going on - where if something just looked way wrong, that was a sign it was unsafe to eat - but some people take it too far. (Come on, green eggs? We get purple carrots in the CSA, why do green eggs freak people out but not that?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Oh rest assured plenty of people freak out about purple carrots, too. In my experience most first-worlders are just kind of default-fussy when it comes to how food should look.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:58 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


people avoiding "weird" foods means MORE BLUE POTATOES FOR ME

I also have a personal theory that the more lumpen and misshapen a tomato is the better it tastes.
posted by The Whelk at 12:58 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


Charging more for the more visually attractive produce is really a great idea, I think. Since we started gardening more seriously, we've definitely been eating more "ugly" vegetables since we've put all this effort into growing stuff and I'm not about to throw out a weird looking radish after getting it to grow.

Meanwhile, in the US, people set fire to their refrigerators after the president speaks out against food waste.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:58 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


BUT PURPLE AND YELLOW CARROTS ADD VISUAL INTEREST TO ROASTS

gah some people
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


BUT PURPLE AND YELLOW CARROTS ADD VISUAL INTEREST TO ROASTS

This! And besides - purple carrots and blue potatoes and green eggs let you pretend that you have slipped inside a Dr. Seuss book and who wouldn't want that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Neil Gaiman also had a lot of fun a few years back when he grew a satanic tomato in his garden. His readers all urged him to put it up on eBay for charity or something - he pointed out that wouldn't work, but he did end up making a batch of salsa and auctioning the few jars he made on ebay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:05 PM on July 18


Animal feed price probably going to increase. Surely that ugly, delicious food wasn't being literally thrown away.
posted by resurrexit at 1:07 PM on July 18


My understanding is a lot of imperfect fruit/veggies is already used for prepared foods/juices/etc.
posted by aspo at 1:12 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


That is definitely the French choice of an ugly carrot and orange.

Or maybe I'm just a pervert.
posted by maryr at 1:16 PM on July 18


Meanwhile, in the US, people set fire to their refrigerators after the president speaks out against food waste.

Wait, what?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:23 PM on July 18


Most animal feed is sourced from (subsidized) grain and oilseed processing waste (wheat, soy, corn, rice, rapeseed, etc.). Any vegetable content--if present at all--comes from industrial processing waste. We're not talking the as-advertised "gourmet" dog food at the corner store if we're talking about 99% of animal feed, which is an industry unto itself. It's very doubtful that these policies could approach even the tiniest dent in animal feed costs.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:27 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


MartinWisse There's an undercurrent of some Americans opting to show their dislike of the current administration by flouting the opposite of its perceived agenda (as in this example).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:29 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Wait, what?

I'm assuming the "set fire to their refrigerators" thing is an over-the-top joke about how there's a faction of the population that any time Obama says something, they do exactly the opposite as a sort of thumbing-their-nose move.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


There is a fantastic, related movie by Agnès Varda called "The Gleaners & I" from 2000.
posted by mikewebkist at 1:34 PM on July 18


why do green eggs freak people out but not that?

I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:37 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


What is with the translation of "moche" to "inglorious?" I'm not a fluent French speaker, but I've always understood it to be simply "ugly."
posted by letitrain at 1:40 PM on July 18


At a restaurant I used to do pastry at, we thrived on ugly, unsellable, misshapen fruit and veg. There are these guys who go around the Ontario Food Terminal (central distribution hub) buying up flat after flat of ugly, bruised, whatever produce at pennies on the dollar (because the farmer/supplier just wants to get rid of it), then they'd show up at our back door in early afternoon; we'd get flats of slightly bruised strawberries for $2. We'd get cases of misshapen peppers for maybe $3. None of the looks really mattered because Chef only paid market price for things which would be seen whole by guests. Anything going into sauces, stocks, preserves, etc? Doesn't matter one bit what it looks like because it's getting processed anyway.

And the guys who did this? Would make a killing, every day. Spend 50c each on ten 'unsellable' flats of something--sell the whole shebang for $20. (NB they only did this with fruit and veg and fungi, not raw meats.) By the time it got to a guest or a retail customer, we were making a killing too--500% markup, at least. Sometimes well over 1000%.

I will not eat green eggs and ham!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:44 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Awesome campaign! Great post!
posted by travelwithcats at 1:49 PM on July 18


much food

wow
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:52 PM on July 18


purple carrots and blue potatoes and green eggs let you pretend that you have slipped inside a Dr. Seuss book and who wouldn't want that?

I would have agreed with you pre- Mike Myers.

I regret that the wide variety of potato in South American markets never immigrate north. (Or perhaps they do? Please advise.)

Are French consumers really so very wasteful? I recall seeing Pierre Frenay advise his viewers to save wine from half drunk goblets in order to make vinegar. (Granted, he was born in 1921, but even so.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:52 PM on July 18


save wine from half drunk goblets

i do not understand those words in that order
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:54 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I had to coax a friend several days ago to eat a blue potato cut up in potato salad. He thought it achieved its hue with food coloring and didn't believe me when I said it grew that way.

Also I am team aubergine all the way. He has a charming nose and a giant chin!
posted by winna at 1:57 PM on July 18


Sure, the video was great and all, but I have to ask.

Why did that woman's shirt say "Mrs. Blowzy" on it??
posted by crazylegs at 2:03 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Recent New York Times article about Fruta Feia, or Ugly Fruit, a cooperative in Lisbon that purchases and sells this otherwise wasted produce.
posted by stevil at 2:16 PM on July 18


What is with the translation of "moche" to "inglorious?" I'm not a fluent French speaker, but I've always understood it to be simply "ugly."

It is, and it's more than that. When used to describe people, you can be nearly certain that the person using it is a teenager or otherwise immature. Think teenagers going, "omg s/he looks stoo-pid hurr hurr hurr". When used to describe inanimate objects, it's roughly the equivalent of, "ew, this is gross," and is used by all maturity levels.

"Inglorious" is a great translation-reworking. Their whole English presentation shows that they went a professional route, tailoring it to an English-speaking audience. They even used alternate translations of "c'est très bien"! So refreshing to see that a creative, talented translator got a fun job and ran with it.

Why did that woman's shirt say "Mrs. Blowzy" on it??

Because neither she nor her stylist know what it means, but they think it looks cute? Very few people read t-shirts here, anything with words on it is generally taken as a style statement more than a "read my shirt whose words say something about my individuality" statement. Her shirt (and hair, and speech) all read the Parisian idea of "I'm a hip hipster!" to me.
posted by fraula at 2:17 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


"the Parisian idea of "I'm a hip young hipster!""
Haha, someone should make a FPP about how hipsters around the world look because to me she looked more like a soccer mom.

posted by travelwithcats at 2:25 PM on July 18


We've all been trained into compliance by fifty years of waxed, dyed, and bleached standardized produce and farm goods, alas.

Green or blue eggs come mostly from Araucanas and Easter Egger chickens, and are usually delicious and fresh, as they're seldom reared in the industrial torture farms our absurd consumption and economic foolishness enable.

In fact, the awful white eggs that we were trained to prefer because whiteness = goodness, somehow, come from Leghorns, which are the dirty stupid meanspirited dickheads of the chicken kingdom. You haven't been properly spurred up until you've had your ankles bandied about by a grimy white cock while you're running in sandals with a basket of eggs.
posted by sonascope at 2:26 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


You haven't been properly spurred up until you've had your ankles bandied about by a grimy white cock while you're running in sandals with a basket of eggs.

...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:27 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Neil Gaiman also had a lot of fun a few years back when he grew a satanic tomato in his garden. His readers all urged him to put it up on eBay for charity or something - he pointed out that wouldn't work, but he did end up making a batch of salsa and auctioning the few jars he made on ebay.

Weird. I thought all the truly satanic tomatoes had already been used up by the Pace Picante Sauce corporation.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:27 PM on July 18


Animal feed price probably going to increase. Surely that ugly, delicious food wasn't being literally thrown away.

No, it literally is.

American Wasteland is a great read about food waste in the U.S., by the way.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:06 PM on July 18


The idea of 'ugly' food being tossed out seems ridiculous to me - until I start looking at my own experiences.

I make a lot of jam in the summer months - a lot - and recently recruited my 10 year old son to help me pit cherries. I explained that we'd discard any that were badly bruised or marred (scarred flesh). He identified nearly every cherry as being "bad" because of some tiny blemish, dimple, or odd shape. We've had to explain to all of our kids (on more than one occasion) that there's no need to toss out a banana or an apple (or carrot, or..) because it has a wrinkle or a spot or a small bruise. I could weep over the number of banana bread-ready 'nanners that have been chucked out by small hands because they were "rotten".

Planting our own garden has helped a lot - in part because it's possible to grow more diverse produce than you'll find in the store and in part because all home-grown vegetables inevitably look wonky. And like backseatpilot said, I'm pretty much guaranteed to eat anything that required me to put effort into its creation (my kids are adopted).

(There's a huge amount of info and stats about food waste being published, most of it in the past 5 years, and it's fascinating. Like why we don't feed commercial food scraps to pigs anymore and why supermarkets have their dumpsters locked up and won't donate foods. Someone else should totally do a post about those things - I tried but got too angry and overwhelmed so I figured I'd stick with a happy video.)
posted by VioletU at 3:40 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


(Disclaimer, I do occasional volunteer work for the org I'm about to mention)

Up here, Second Harvest diverts a frightening amount of food from ending up in dumpsters. They pick up whatever restaurants and supermarkets can't/won't use (with a few restrictions) and redistribute to community kitchens, food banks, shelters, etc. Last year it was 9 million pounds of food. That's three pounds of food for every single person living in the Greater Toronto Area. I can't remember what their estimate on what they fail to intercept is, sorry. And thanks to Good Samaritan laws up here, if you're making an honest and sincere attempt to help, you are absolved of legal responsibility when you donate to such organizations, or directly to community kitchens etc. (The org itself assumes liability, I believe? Not familiar with all the internal workings.)

Delicious, edible, perfectly good food is absolutely thrown out every day, in every affluent part of the world, where people are begging on our very own streets for money to eat. It's disgusting. I've seen it happen in kitchens I've worked in; I've begged chefs to let me take on the responsibility of liaising with SH and saving food that wasn't quite fresh or pretty enough to sell for cash, but was still perfectly fine to eat. It's a hard sell. 95% of the time, into the bin. The rest of the time, staff meals.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:57 PM on July 18


I do work with an org similar to Second Harvest. They've said that grocery stores intend to throw out about a third of their inventory, because that's what it takes for the produce dept to look full and fresh all the time.
posted by rhymes with carrots at 4:24 PM on July 18


Fun fact about chicken eggs: There is a direct correlation between the color of the eggs a hen lays and the color of her earlobes.

Fun fact about chickens: They have earlobes.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:37 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Now that we have a compost bucket in our kitchen for curbside compost collection I've been very aware of the amount of food waste we produce.

Most refrigerators seem almost perfectly designed to waste fresh produce. The "Crispers" are low and out of the way and often are undersized for a standard CSA box load.

Unfortunately, all my nonperishable stuff it on top and so easy to get and put back, but the perishable stuff is out of sight and out of mind.

My perfect fridge would have easier, larger access to fresh fruit / veggies and make it easier to place yogurts, pickles, etc.. lower and out of sight.

Making getting out fresh veggies have a little less friction goes a long way to solving food waste for me at home.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:22 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Once you grow your own, you learn that pretty and tasty don't necessarily go together.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:43 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I like eating weird misshapen vegetables and fruit. I like that Lidl sells misshapen vegetables and fruit for me to purchase. However, I don't like how "misshapen" in a lot of supermarkets means "actually going off". I really don't want to buy a giant bag of green beans and discover rotting ones in the middle.

However, I am glad that this gives me the opportunity to show off last year's Salad Blue potato. I grew it. I baked it. It was fantastic with butter and black pepper.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:29 AM on July 19




Fun fact about chickens:

Facts about chickens? Fun facts about chickens? OK, if we're going to get in to chicken facts, let's do this.
posted by maryr at 7:28 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


>"save wine from half drunk goblets"

i do not understand those words in that order


I know, right? All I can say is, that's what he recommended and even did on air.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:30 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


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