Sure, That Apple Looks Deformed, but See Why You Should Eat It Anyway

To eliminate food waste, France’s Intermarché supermarket got consumers to buy less-than-perfect produce.
Jul 18, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

When you head to the farmers market or the produce section of your grocery store, you have the best intentions: You’re going to buy some über-healthy fruits and veggies. But along with wanting foods that are good for you, you probably also want your oranges and carrots to look good. If there are any lumps, bumps, bruises, or other deformities on an apple, you’re likely to pass it up.

Most of the time, those supposedly deformed yet perfectly tasty and nutritious fruits and vegetables don’t even make it to the market. They’re chucked in the garbage before we even see them. As a result, we waste roughly 300 million tons of food per year. With 2014 the European Year Against Food Waste, French supermarket chain Intermarché has stepped up with an innovative campaign to get consumers to purchase produce that looks “ugly.”

As you can see in the video above, the grocer began selling the unattractive produce, which it dubbed “inglorious fruits and vegetables,” at a discounted price. It also gave the items fun names, such as the “ridiculous potato” and the “hideous orange.” To prove to shoppers that even ugly items are delicious, Intermarché juiced some of the fruits and gave the juice to shoppers for free.

The initiative helped boost Intermarché’s bottom line. It also ensured that people became more aware of food waste and began snapping up the previously trashed fruits and veggies. The French media even started wondering why other supermarkets weren’t selling less-than-perfect produce.

It’s a good question, and one that we should be asking stateside too. After all, we already throw away nearly half of the food we buy, so chucking perfectly good produce before it even leaves a farm is just more needless waste. At a time when 50 million Americans are hungry and one in four kids is going to bed without dinner every night, that’s food that should be going into growling bellies instead of the garbage.