In a day and age where we celebrate imperfections, the Ugly Produce trend sounds exciting, wholesome, and positive. However, upon doing a little digging, this phenomenon may be less fruitful than we imagined.
The ugly produce movement aims to market fruits and vegetables that look a little different— think of a misshapen squash, or an
However, the trend seems to be faltering, and may be approaching a slow halt. Large grocery retailers such as Walmart and Whole Foods gave the trend a shot, with disappointing results. Both have since ended their venture into reimagined produce. With a nominal difference in price between the blemished products and the conventional ones, consumers tend to stick with what they know. Some smaller markets are still pushing Ugly Produce in their aisles, though it is unlikely that the trend will ever be permanently adopted in the United States.
Apart from the lack of momentum currently behind Ugly Produce, the trend actually might be problematic on a larger scale. These blemished (though perfectly edible!) goods have been in budget supermarkets for decades. By attempting to sell this product in high-end markets, the trend is gentrifying and making inaccessible a product that is already being utilized by a demographic that may not usually shop at Whole Foods or the like.
However, if this food is in fact going to waste, then how about donating it to homeless shelters or food drives? The trend opens up a window of opportunity to encourage corporate social responsibility without taking away from families that may already be benefiting from the sale of Ugly Produce on a non-trendy level. Restaurants, too, could participate in food recycling. What may be more effective than incorporating Ugly Produce into an already marked-up menu is to donate leftover food at the end of the day to some of the 40 million food insecure Americans.
The idea behind Ugly Produce sounds promising, but ultimately does not seem like the most effective way to eradicate food waste.