Hands up who remembers shopping on a Saturday morning at the local market with their mum. She’d hand over the string vegetable bag and ask for a pound of carrots. Those carrots were then chosen by the trader and deposited directly into the bag. The produce was always uncovered and very often still a little bit dirty from being freshly pulled from the ground. Half the fun as a child, was sifting through those carrots looking for funny shapes or extra-large ones to marvel at.
Skip forward to today and what we see is the disappearance of local markets, and with them that more natural style of food. More and more of us now shop in supermarkets, buying identically sized and shaped fruits and veg, cleaned and packaged in plastic wrappings for our convenience.
What caused the change?
So what prompted the change from buying food that looks just-picked, to those that look like they’ve been to a beauty salon before ending up on the shelves? And, more importantly, what happens to all the food that doesn’t make the grade?
The answers to the questions are ‘the EU’ and ‘in the bin!’ Why? Because up until 2009, there was a controversial EU rule that dictated the size and shape of 26 types of fruit and vegetables. Those that didn’t meet the standards were simply rejected.
The result of this rule was that 20-40% of all fruits and vegetables supplied by farmers were rejected. And what happened to the rejected food? Yep, you’ve guessed it, most was thrown away. That’s perfectly edible, nutritious and delicious, fresh fruit and veg being dumped in the bin!
Asda lead the way!
Thankfully someone is seeing the light. Asda have launched their ‘wonky’ fruit campaign, with Jamie Oliver as their celeb-chef endorsement. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not perfect. The food is presented as ‘wonky’, and is being sold off cheap, with the tag line ‘Beautiful on the Inside’. It’s great that Asda want to sell this not-so-perfect fruit, but doesn’t the fact that it’s labelled as ‘wonky’ just continue the idea that this food is in some way inferior?
Anyway, let’s put that to one side and focus on how it’ll help cut food waste and feed people cheaply – something we’re all for at thinkmoney!
Other places to get ‘wonky’ fruits and veg
Of course, Asda, and all other major supermarkets, already sell ‘wonky’ fruits and veg – they’re the ones that end up in the reduced section, looking a little worse for wear. Grab them, they’ll be cheap and just as tasty and nutritious as their unbruised, full-priced friends.
What to do with bruised fruits
There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you intend on buying ‘wonky’ stuff. Bruised fruits and veg do tend to spoil a little quicker than usual. So, only buy what you can eat fairly quickly, say within one or two days. Store them in the fridge, as keeping them cool prevents bruising from spreading. It also stops the food ripening any further too.
If you really don’t want to eat the bruised bits, just cut them out! The same goes for vegetables with discolouration, like potatoes that have been affected by frost, cut it out and carry on.
Bruised bananas make a delicious banana loaf and if you leave them until that are completely black, the better the cake will taste. Or peel and pop them in the freezer for another time. In fact, most fruit is good to freeze, especially if you fancy using it for smoothies, juicing or in dishes where it’s going to be cooked, such as crumbles and pies.
Vegetables are the same. Most can be frozen, which makes for a quick dinner if you prep it before freezing. And don’t forget, freezing bruised fruits and veg will prevent them from deteriorating any further.
Don’t waste anything
You don’t even have to waste the bruised bits. You can:
• Throw them in the garden and give the local bird and insect life a treat
• Whizz them up in your blender with a bit of water and throw them on your garden for a cheap fertiliser
• Ditch them in your food waste bin – the green one – so it can be recycled
• Invest in a home composting bin and reuse all your fruit and veg waste, as well as old cardboard, egg shells and boxes, paper bags, cotton wool and used kitchen towels
There you have it. Now there’s no excuse for rejecting those poor, ugly bruised fruits. And you never know, you may just pick up something you’d never normally think of buying – like an Ugli fruit!