A major US food distributor is battling food waste by selling ugly vegetables — take a look

Science
Imperfect Produce Tomatoes

About one-third of the food produced worldwide gets wasted or lost each year, according to the United Nations. The United States is part of this global problem; the Food Waste Reduction Alliance estimates that 84% of unused food in American restaurants ends up being disposed of. Only 1% is donated.

Thomas McQuillan, vice president of strategy, culture, and sustainability at Baldor Specialty Foods, told Business Insider that a significant portion of the food grown on US farms is also discarded.

“We made it easy for us to not feel guilty about sending it to landfill by calling it waste, but it never should have been considered waste,” McQuillan said. “It should have always been considered something that we figured out how to utilize.”

Baldor, which imports and distributes food in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, is trying to bring the amount of unused food down. This summer, the company launched a program to increase the consumption of food that is imperfect in terms of size, shape, or blemishes.

The “imperfect produce” program, which encourages farms to sell their blemished or misshapen produce to Baldor, is bringing these products to restaurants and aims to hit grocery stores as well. McQuillan said the program also helps generate more revenue for farmers, who can create the same output with less land because they are discarding less food.

Baldor has partnered with two farms that are providing imperfect squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and more to the company. Take a look at some of the produce below.

SEE ALSO: A third of the planet’s food goes to waste — here’s what we throw out the most

SEE ALSO: American restaurants are wasting an incredible amount of food — here’s the proof

The imperfect produce program’s website currently lists 11 available items.

Hepworth Farms, one of Baldor’s two partners, started offering imperfect zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers this summer. It recently added butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash to the list.

McQuillan said Baldor wants to “recalibrate” what kinds of produce are considered usable so that more of it can go toward restaurants and other buyers.

Some of these items may look different than produce sold in stores — they may be bigger, smaller, or misshapen. But they are still nutritious and tasty, he said, adding it would be “a shame” for them to be unused.

“In the farmers’ eyes, in their co-packing facilities, they decided for whatever reason that these didn’t meet the standard,” he said. “Why is there even a standard on an acorn squash? Why is there a standard on butternut squash? Particularly if you go to peel it and chunk it and put it in a soup, what makes it different?”

Through a partnership with Satur Farms, Baldor provides kale cut from a previously grown plant as well as a kale and spinach mix.

Farmers typically do not reuse a kale plant after cutting it, but Baldor is working with Satur Farms to sell second-cut kale, McQuillan said.

Allowing the kale to grow from a previously used plant eliminates the …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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