food waste culprit

We waste between 30 and 50 percent of the food that we produce. That is pretty scary, especially considering rising food prices and that so many people here in the U.S. and worldwide go to bed hungry. We know there are ways that we as consumers can reduce the amount of food that goes to waste in our kitchens, but there’s one cause of food waste that we don’t talk about nearly enough.

Did you know that grocery stores have strict standards for how produce has to look? Apples that are too small? No thank you! Carrots that have two “legs” instead of the one that most consumers expect? Outta here! These fruits and veggies are just as safe as the giant apples and perfect-looking carrots that we see on store shelves, yet they end up as waste, because stores won’t buy them from farmers.

If this senseless waste of perfectly good food makes you a little bit ill, there are a few ways that you can make a difference:

  • Join a CSA – Veggie boxes from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares don’t discriminate just because something is a little misshapen. Rejoice in the pants carrots!
  • Shop at the Farmers Market – Just like a CSA share, small farms aren’t going to leave irregular food that’s perfectly edible behind when they load up for market. Rifle through those baskets and choose the funniest-looking veggies!
  • Check out one of these organizations that’s fighting to reduce food waste.
  • Partner with Local Farms – If you want to make the biggest impact, get to know the mid- to large-sized farms in your area and talk to them about donating that irregular produce to the local food bank instead of tossing it.
  • Grow Your Own – Growing your own food gives you total control over what you save and what gets tossed. 

Have you found other ways to reclaim irregular fruits and veggies before they end up in the compost bin or the landfill? I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments!

Image: Becky Striepe