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Most “ugly” produce gets turned into soups, sauces, salsa, jam (twitter.com)
349 points by apsec112 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 214 comments

This was actually (part of) MUJI's concept at launch. An example is selling broken-off mushrooms:

"For example, there was a poster of dried shiitake mushrooms that were slightly damaged during the production process. In the Japanese market, only perfectly round shiitake were sold, but MUJI sold imperfectly shaped shiitake because they taste just as delicious. In another poster, the copy reads “The entire fish is salmon.” This is straightforward copy reminding readers that salmon is delicious head to tail, so all of it should be eaten. Even as the Japanese economy moved closer and closer toward an economic bubble, we had positive feedback from so many consumers back then who wanted to focus on the simple things in life." https://www.muji.com/us/flagship/huaihai755/archive/koike.ht...

It shows that you can package almost anything as long as you do it with conceptual integrity. If you sell discounted goods, don't try to pass it off as as good as something more expensive, because that is not credible or interesting. Emphasize that it's less expensive, and why. When I google "conceptual integrity" which is funny in a way because I'm not a developer, and also interesting because it shows that many foundational ideas are cross-disciplinary.

Isn’t this a cautionary tale because MUJI ended up buying Japan’s entire broken mushroom output and had to buy whole ones in order to break them up themselves?

I'm having trouble finding an article on that, do you have a link?

It was in a short modern history of Japan I read about 15 years ago. I’ll try and dig it up.

> In another poster, the copy reads “The entire fish is salmon.” This is straightforward copy reminding readers that salmon is delicious head to tail, so all of it should be eaten.

I heard once that some steaks sold are actually separate pieces of meat glued together and made to look like a natural steak. Maybe this happens with fish as well. Wouldn't "the entire fish is salmon" be referring to that there's no pieces of other fish glued to the fillet? I mean, perhaps there's a legal technicality where it's permissible to sell a product as salmon when at least 10% is actual salmon or so.

It's kind of like how all those sweeteners sold as being stevia are actually only like 1 or 2% stevia.

> It's kind of like how all those sweeteners sold as being stevia are actually only like 1 or 2% stevia.

Sometimes they add filler to match the volume of sugar for equivalent sweetness. This makes it easier to proportion out for baking and adding to drinks. Otherwise the baking might be off or the drinks too sweet.

If I remember right, from the time I took a look at them, some didn't even have stevia at all. Their only relation was having a branding that made you think of stevia.

I suppose theres another angle not mentioned here.

Currently fresh food buyers are basically subsidising processed food manufacturers, making the former relatively more expensive compared to the latter.

Any move to consume uglier foods would increase competition and prices at the lower end, making fresh food relatively cheaper.

From a dietary point of view this is good, fresh food tends to be healthier than processed.

> From a dietary point of view this is good, fresh food tends to be healthier than processed.

There's a lot of caveat there, because it depends on the kind of processing. For example, in terms of vitamin content, fresh produce usually compares unfavorably with frozen produce, and often comes in behind canned food as well. Yes, freezing and canning are both forms of processing, but they're forms of processing that are meant to preserve the food. The same things that protect it from spoilage can also protect some of the more volatile nutrients from breaking down.

From a dietary point of view this is good, [assuming you can still afford to eat].

I spent some time reasoning whether this would increase costs for those at the very bottom.

I suppose it could, assuming they didn't buy mote fresh produce instead of processed. But in Tha situation they either don't want to change their diet (so its their choice?) or they already have an ideal diet, no processed food to stop consuming. I'm not sure how big the latter population is though.

Not everybody simply has the option (budget) to buy and eat healthier. I don't totally disagree with your points, but there are tradeoffs here too.

I'm not convinced that fresh produce is more expensive than processed, or that it necessarily takes longer. That is predicated on being able to cook, and having some form of kitchen. But yes there are tradeoffs.

I hope we can all agree that everyone has a right to eat. But that people don't have the right to eat steak every day. So somewhere in the middle there is a diet that people have a right to. There's a tremendous grey area in there, but I think its reasonable to expect people to prioritise a healthy diet first, although again there is a limit to that.

I'm also not sure how far your line of reasoning is from objecting to taxes on cigarettes or alcohol, on the basis it will hit less well off people hardest. I don't want to deny poorer people nice things, but that shouldn't be carte blanche to keep 'bad' things cheap.

Half the problem is that processed food encompasses coke, chocolate, cake as well as frozen peas and baked beans. So we could just be talking past each other here.

Not just buying it but preparing and cooking it too.

A single mother working two jobs with a small kitchen struggles to get the time to prep or to afford to buy in bulk to prep in advance.

> The "eat ugly fruit!" movement is classist as FUCK. You've got to have a debilitating level of ignorance to assume that if Whole Paycheck Market doesn't stock ugly fruit, it must be getting "wasted."

It is possible to not know much about the agricultural industry without being "classist as fuck." There are an infinite number of things one can learn about and a finite amount of time. While the content is interesting, I find the condescending tone off-putting.

Are there advantages to this communication style that I'm missing?

I think what this quote is responding to is people disseminating some first world millennial's first uninformed guess about an issue as if were a revolution and a blessing to the world, instead of stopping to think that their precious intellectual virtues are not limited to people of their class, education, and supposed intelligence.

The idea that our enlightened attitudes set us apart from the rest of unwashed humanity is our fake news -- the stuff we consume unreflectively because it flatters us and plays nicely with our prejudices. Presented in a neutral context, the idea that the agricultural industry was throwing away significant quantities of produce because of aesthetic flaws would meet a lot of skepticism. Presented in the context of you are special because you understand how wrong this practice is and special people like us can help save the world by fixing this problem the idea gets uncritically accepted and widely shared on social media.

Calling people "classist as fuck" is designed to startle and threaten exactly the people who tend to accept these narratives uncritically, and put them in a frame of mind to consider that they might be wrong. Whatever the truth of the issue is, we won't get there unless we stop seeing ourselves as the hero of the story.

As someone who was only briefly acquainted with the "buy ugly produce" idea in the first place and thought it sounded vaguely good. I never looked into actually taking action because I couldn't be bothered.

I do think they are being unkind and rude. There were too sides here the "scammers" and the clueless good people who got taken for a ride. Alienating the latter group is a mistake and will just make people avoid you because they will never be good enough for you anyway.

I on the other hand, feel vindicated in my apathy. "Trying to do good is a waste of time, the world is too ungrateful"

>...and put them in a frame of mind to consider that they might be wrong.

You are entirely correct, but I think what GP is saying is that there's a very specific kind of person who goes from being insulted on the Internet to open to reflection and it's not most people.

That's true when they're reacting to criticism from outside their tribe, but "classist as fuck" (and the whole rest of the rant) sounds like it comes from the same perspective that people were trying to inhabit by buying into the "rescue ugly produce" story. This creates a "the calls are coming from inside the house" moment that makes people nervous that they're on the wrong side of the issue, so when the issue comes to their doorstep (somebody is marketing some "ugly produce" product or service to them) they might look into the specifics instead of blithely accepting it at face value.

I guess the author was upset that a great many people parroted the 'ugly fruits get disposed' line without doing any research. I might have mentioned it myself, because it was all over the news. I can understand why someone who works in the industry would find this frustrating - it's basically just fake news and the damage is real. A rebuttal would get nowhere near the press the sensationalist original story would get.

The lesson from this is - share stories only within your area of expertise.

It's similar to Equifax/Yahoo/any other careless/evil corporation paying for ads berating people for not using stronger passwords.

What is the damage? What does it matter which fruits are bought first at the supermarket?

The ugly fruit movement is much bigger than that, and has its own markets and sale areas. Farmers (often in collaboration with startups (not all for-profit)) will divert this produce to sell to the middle-class people worried about this, since they pay more than the jam makers, but at the end of the market day some will throw away leftovers which are not worth the time to haul back, sort, etc. So it can actually increase food waste.

Are not you assuming the varieties used for canning etc are the same for sale in supermarkets.

This is precisely what the OP (with expertise in this field) is stating.

See the statement about Honeycrisp apples.

Yes there are varieties more suited to different purposes, and there may be some that are grown specifically for those other purposes (e.g. a variety might be selectively bred with higher pectin for jam-making), but commercial producers of things like soup, pies, jams etc are a prime destination for ugly instances of supermarket-shelf varieties.

I work for a farmer who makes apple juice of various varieties. He used to use raspberries that were ‘seconds’ which wouldn’t fit supermarket criteria for selling by themselves. He pressed and used them for juicing for one variety he made.

As of last year the farm he bought them off no longer bothers to harvest seconds because it’s not worth it to them in the cost of labour to pick, sort and sell them.

So yes in certain cases this fruit is being wasted and people paying more for it would cause less of it to rot.

How is the farm harvesting? Raspberries are especially perishable - especially when damaged. Eventually I think everyone involved needs to admit that the economics just don't work, and that at smaller scales, composting isn't awful.

For large raspberry growers here in WA, most berries are mechanically harvested and sent off to be processed into juices, extracts, concentrates, etc. One producer I know ships them over the Cascades in milk tankers. (Faster, fresher, less handling.) They can go from the farm to the factory line in under eight hours.

Berries by the pint, and even IQF (individually-quick frozen) berries command a HUGE premium, and are often hand harvested. You can't take those labor costs downmarket and make the economics work.

I just wanted to chime in and comment further on your statement.

>that at smaller scales, composting isn't awful.

And note that in cases like this, having worked on an organic fruit farm, it is often very difficult to actually compost the unused fruit seconds. Very acidic fruit in large quantities does not generally make for a good compost. It requires a lot more work to deal with a mountain of lemons for instance in a compost to get a usable soil composition. Most people don't ever encounter issues like this because a households normal compost is varied enough that you won't have this problem.

A lot of times nothing will grow or you won't get a very good yield out of really acidic soil for the most part.

All this is to say that the fruit in your example is probably literally being put to no purpose whatsoever and is almost assuredly not being composted.

That's a good point. I can see how it would be really crop and situation dependent.

Since we're talking about bad things that can happen with old fruit - one more story where composting is truly awful. There was a lawsuit in these parts a few years ago where several hunters were severely burned after falling through into a pile of decomposing grape mash. Apparently it can reach temperatures in excess of 500° when highly concentrated:


>So yes in certain cases this fruit is being wasted and people paying more for it would cause less of it to rot.

So how do you know they wouldn't just plant more if people paid more?

Why would you plant more when you can satisfy all your ugly customers with your existing production?

If the total demand is stable then you'd need less perfect crop and you could actually plant less to sell the same amount at the same price.

I think it's pretty simple: People absolutely love drama. Calling someone out feels good, and people love to follow along. It gets irritating when people make super broad accusations like this, but I believe it's in a similar vein to how politics on Twitter is mostly people trying to out snark everyone else.

In this situation I'd say the consumer is the victim of being misled, but you stir up a lot more people by accusing both parties!

Others are pointing out that the author is rightly frustrated. Of course, but most people don't accidentally make broad accusations of problematic isms, either.

This is a pernicious problem in modern politics in general. Sell the easy-to-react-to emotional story to people and they'll turn it into some big movement without stopping to check the facts. This leads to people believing lies and advocating for existing sensible systems to be changed because they believed those lies.

> Of course, but most people don't accidentally make broad accusations of problematic isms, either.

Have you been on twitter before?

"Dirty little secrets Dirty little lies We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie We love to cut you down to size We love dirty laundry

We can do "The Innuendo" We can dance and sing When it's said and done we haven't told you a thing We all know that Kraft is king Give us dirty laundry!"

Dirty Laundry - Don Henley

The author is just expressing their frustration of having to constantly correct this particular strain of naivete. Contained naivete (e.g. keeping incorrect opinions to oneself) is mostly harmless to everybody, but if naivete spreads that's bad.

Of course, there's also the "outrage gets you likes" aspect, but I guess if I were in the agriculture field I might have reason to genuinely be somewhat outraged.

I probably wouldn't call it classist af for someone to not understand efficiencies of agricultural logistics, though..

>The author is just expressing their frustration of having to constantly correct this particular strain of naivete

Why do they have to "constantly correct" it? What is their business?

Besides, it's not really "naivete".

Eating uglier fruit and vegetables is still good advice, to not get sucked buyinh tasteless but nice-looking produce that selectively breeds for size and color over taste, and even uses BS tricks like coloring and such to make it more appealing.

    > Eating uglier fruit and vegetables is still good advice...
The OP was describing the "naive" people who shop at Whole Foods (or other premium grocery stores) and then complain about the wasted or missing "ugly" produce. They're thinking that if the ugly stuff isn't at their fancy grocery store it must have been thrown away when, in fact, the "ugly" produce has merely been diverted away to other vendors and uses which they're simply not aware of.

The irony that is lost upon them is that by walking into their fancy grocery store, they're basically signalling to the grocery store that they're willing to pay a high price for what the grocery store and their demographic has deemed "unblemished" produce that meets certain criteria for size and appearance.

In a sense it is totally fair to call out such naivete. Instead of complaining to Whole Foods, these folks should just shop elsewhere. The price will be lower, the flavors will be different (usually better), and yes, there will more blemishes and unexpected size and appearance.

To actually find that "ugly" produce one needs to go to the discount/ethnic groceries. In the Northeastern US, that just means finding the Asian and Hispanic produce vendors and going there for produce. There are _some_ other vendors which are beginning to catch on, "Produce Junction" comes to mind.

The offputting tone wouldn't be quite as objectionable (imo) if the argument wasn't so FUCKing wrong.

> Most "ugly" produce gets turned into soups, sauces, salsa, jam, ice cream, etc. You think that stuff gets made from the pretty fruit & veggies?! jeebus, think about it for a minute

I've thought about it, and yes, that stuff gets made from the pretty fruit & veggies. Sure, a LOT of it gets made from the rejected "ugly" fruit from other supply chains, and—also—even in cases where it's being made from the pretty ones, they're not filtering out the "ugly" ones, so generally all the food is used in those cases. BUT, no, we don't have a perfect interoperable system where every ag supplier has equal and complimentary arrangements with supermarkets and salsa factories. Not every packing house is the same (not every one separates out the uglies), and not every one supplies salsa makers. There is PLENTY of waste in between.

> The amt of produce wasted bc of labor problems (can't get a crew to harvest) & bad weather (melons that rot in the field bc it's too hot & wet, etc) WAY outstrips produce thrown out bc it's "ugly."

She may be right here (would like to see some data, but still—the statement seems plausible), but in what way does that nullify the fact that plenty of produce is still thrown out? In what way does labour/weather-problem-related waste mean we shouldn't also try to reduce waste in areas where we very easily can?


This sentence from the same person who just used the phrase "classist as fuck"!?

>This sentence from the same person who just used the phrase "classist as fuck"!?

There's nothing classist about acknowledging the fact that poor and rich people often shop in different stores.

The claim is odd though. In my experience, the selection of fruits and vegetables differs mostly in variety, not quality.

If there is a quality difference, then it might be the other way around, because supermarkets targeting well-off customers tend to have more organic produce, which is almost always grade B.

Fancy supermarkets probably want 'fancy' fruits and vegetables. 'Fancy' often meaning fancy-looking rather than fancy tasting.

Quality usually differs by region? West vs East Europe Chocolat comes to mind.

Wrong. Rich people don’t shop. They aren’t even aware of how their fridge gets stocked. They got too many helpers! Those helpers shop at the same stores us regular folks shop at!

(But seriously, is there really such stories that exist as poor/rich or are these just the same stores in different areas?)

> (But seriously, is there really such stories that exist as poor/rich or are these just the same stores in different areas?)

I wouldn't say poor vs rich stores, but there are supermarkets which compete on pricing and others that compete on 'experience'. The first would have low prices, put out produce in the boxes it came in, employ less workers, etc (ALDI where I am from) and the latter will focus on all the food looking pretty, have nice looking displays, have people in the store making sushi, etc (AH where I am from). Where I live there is a shopping center with 1 of each of these types of stores in it. So no, it is not a matter of geography.

I've honestly never noticed things like that when at supermarkets, while living in Australia or Singapore. I'm gonna watch out now see if I notice any of these sort of things. Thanks.

In Germany, there is still a divide between regular "supermarkets" and "discounters". The latter focus on price at the expense of selection and customer service.

Aldi defined the discount grocery segment in the 60s with their focus on vertical integration and cost savings. In the 90s, all Aldi stores notably used the same sort of ugly tiles for their floors and walls, probably because they got a bulk price on them and they're easy to clean etc. When Aldi stocks new items, the process consists of placing a pallet onto the shop floor and removing the foil around it. For smaller items, they just open up the box and put the entire box in the shelf instead of shelfing items one-by-one. At the checkout, there is no bagger; you're supposed to pack your bags while the cashier is scanning the items.

Aldi also waited much longer than anyone else before introducing barcode scanners at their checkouts. Since they stocked only one of every type of item (e.g. only one type of sugar, one type of flour, etc.), there were so few items that cashiers could just memorize the codes for each product. It was quite impressive to see a cashier punching codes into the register at a rapid pace while the flood of items scrolls past them. I may misremember it, but it may have been faster than scanning barcodes.

When Aldi introduced barcodes in the early 2000s, they modified the packaging of items so that barcodes were not only placed at one corner, but instead stretched across the whole side, so that the items could be scanned more reliably.

The divide between supermarkets and discounters is blurring, though. The Aldi store next door just got a redesign and now looks confusingly welcoming. Kind of un-German. I always think of Aldi as a place where shopping is done efficiently first and foremost, and the new design does not really reflect that. It makes it look like a regular supermarket (although still at the size of a discounter).

I live near the border between the Netherlands and Germany and since German supermarkets are cheaper by a lot I go to Germany to buy groceries every now and then. The ALDI there has incredibly fast cashiers. And I mean REALLY fast: The only way to keep up with the cashier is almost to swipe everything in your cart with both hands, you have to as well, because there is only about 50-80cm of 'runway' after the scanning. There is some sort of docking bay for your cart right after that. So everything is designed for a speedy check-out. We once commented to the cashier that they are so incredibly fast and she said that it is due to the scanners they use, they can scan a product in almost any orientation so that she doesn't have to be very accurate or remember where the barcode is for every product.

Due to this incredible speed at check-out, the same number of employees can process a far larger number of customers than the super market in the Netherlands that I go to. Very smart.

> The Aldi store next door just got a redesign and now looks confusingly welcoming

In the UK they seem to have taken store design up a notch, to the point that there's a discernible difference with the Lidl experience (along with now being a tad more expensive on equivalent products). I suspect it's an incremental differentiator in retaining the more affluent customers they captured over the past decade. Lidl, on the other hand, offers a more mixed experience: for the most part, they're still quite dowdy and utilitarian, although they have what seem like experimental stores that appear to be competing in affluent areas with an Aldi presence (larger, open layouts; brighter lighting; polished, natural floor tiles etc.). The kinds of customers I usually find at Lidl are notably absent.

I think you’re making a mistake confusing rich/well-off with ultra-wealthy. For the most part, rich people do their own shopping at Whole Foods not at the discount markets in China Town. Or they do Blue Apron or whatever. Ultra-wealthy people have hired help doing their daily tasks.

For example, here in Portland there’s Grocery Outlet (stocks out-of-season/discontinued/damaged/nearly expired stuff at great prices) less than 2 blocks from a Whole Foods. I shop at both but otherwise don’t see a lot of overlap in the clientele.

Wealthy people don't shop, plenty of rich people do. If you're saying this, consider that others may think of you as rich.

The notion that frugality implies poverty is classist, not to mention inaccurate.

Do you deny that there are both rich people and poor people? Do you deny that there are high-end, expensive grocery stores, and low-end, cheap grocery stores? Do you believe poor people shop at those high-end stores?

If you answered 3x NO, then nitpicking this point as being "classist" is, to paraphrase, dumb as fuck.

Not to mention the effect of neighborhood re: nearby shopping options. I've lived in very poor and fairly rich neighborhoods, and the difference in quality of local grocery stores is dramatic. There are chains I didn't realize even existed, because they targeted different class neighborhoods. And even within a chain, the level of effort put into a given franchise location can vary pretty dramatically as well.

And that's in the states. In the UK, it's a running joke that the different supermarket chains are subdivided along class lines.

> offputting tone

Says the guy that uses FUCK in his comment. Hi pot, meet kettle.

> Not every packing house is the same (not every one separates out the uglies), and not every one supplies salsa makers.

That's not how the system functions. Most produce is auctioned off with strict quality ratings. No contracts needed.

> In what way does labour/weather-problem-related waste mean we shouldn't also try to reduce waste in areas where we very easily can?

The ugly fruit movement claims that:

> About 20-40% of Produce is Wasted Worldwide, this is mostly due to strict cosmetic standards from large grocers that dictate exactly how their fruit and veggies should look

This is the point she's refuting and you're right: she may be right here.

> This sentence from the same person who just used the phrase "classist as fuck"!?

There are poor people. There are businesses focussing on this demographic. Simply stating those facts doesn't make you classist.

>Are there advantages to this communication style that I'm missing?

Wokeness points

> Are there advantages to this communication style that I'm missing?

Invoking an offended identity group is a necessary condition of getting something to fly on Twitter.

A behaviour can be classist, whether there is intent or not.

Similarly, some hiring practices wind up preferring men over women or vice versa, and are thus sexist. Whether that was the intent or not, the outcome is the same.

Well, she does say it's "enraging" and I can imagine (if her story is true) so it gives some real emotion to the story. Is it most effective? I don't know, depends on the goal I guess.

If you start a massive flame war, you get a bigger audience. People come for the drama and once they're there, they're listening to you.

The most heavily funded "ugly produce" subscription box got all the way through their Shark Tank episode without anyone even bringing this up.

Twitter has had enough people posting in anger, that it has become culturally acceptable for anyone to do it.

I can't help but wonder about the upbringing of the folks who act out in anger, in public (posting on the internet is public).

Would you talk this way around your parents, peers, kids? I hope not. The internet is not any different - they're someone's parents, peers and kids, reading your posts.

I’m guessing the kind of folks who post in anger care more for the drama they create and the followers that come with that, than their public image.

As long as you share useful information instead of just hateful ranting with nothing for any reader to gain I don't mind it.

But the irony is so good! She's being a dick to the people she's supposedly trying to inform, telling them that their misguided acts to try to "save the wasted food" are for naught, and that they are classist. Yet claiming everyone who isn't informed has "a debilitating level of ignorance" and is classist, is classist itself! (And ableist!)

I think social media is designed to perpetuate superiority complexes. The vocal minority that post most often seem to think a lot of themselves and not much of everyone else.

It seems like pretty normal Twitter style?


I (as a left-wing sympathiser) actually agree this is signaling; the people who make up the ugly fruit movement are mostly on the same circle as those who use "classist", and using the same language will get them to pay more attention.


Amen also being straight and to the point is not always condescending

Ignorance is no excuse. You might not be classist if you're too ignorant to understand the thing you're passionately protesting, but you're many other voluntarily bad things.

This is a comment about the presentation of this content, but twitter threads are the worst method for presenting a coherent and compelling argument. They enforce unnatural character limits, lack formatting and links, and the whole twitter echo system encourages "hot takes", eg. 'The "eat ugly fruit!" movement is classist as FUCK'

100% agreed. Dr. Taber's thread were a response to someone named Dr. Unicorn linking a Guardian article in response to someone linking a thread of "industry secrets".

It almost makes me grateful for the inevitable Vox story that just pulls Taber's comments. At least that will be in a format that people can share.

And how exactly do you propose to solve this issue? The only reason these threads even get a liftoff is that of Twitter in the first place. A random blog post just doesn't get the same traction unless your blog is established, and a new platform is unlikely to work just for this one specific use case.

I don't mind the format as much as I mind typos and uneven thought, but that's an entirely different issue.

Skip reading it on twitter and throw it in one of the million web apps that convert it to a blog. Probably some chrome extensions out there doing it too


But that's not what twitter exists to do. It's like complaining a newspaper is not an encyclopedia. Or a piece of paper enforcing an unnatural width limit. If you don't like it, don't use. Why get upset that a fork isn't a spoon?

Not really true, though. 280 characters makes for an OK sized paragraph.

> Know what happens to most of the produce that's edible, has enough shape to survive in transit, but looks funny?


So I shop a lot at “grocery stores that poor people shop at” (in Europe, for what it’s worth; maybe the US is different). And the produce sold there is, for the most part, very different from the “ugly” fruit and veg that sustainability hipsters are talking about.

Here’s what produce is sold at “poor people stores”: plasticky, perfect-looking, and utterly tasteless. Yes, there’s a lot of waste because a lot of it gets squashed and mouldy. But nobody is talking about selling that stuff because it’s genuinely bad.

Some greengrocers do sell cheap “ugly” produce but the vast majority that lands in discount super markets isn’t ugly, it’s just incredibly bad quality.

I don’t know what this means for her argument vs the food hipsters. But I find her condescension towards people who don’t know how poor people shop, coupled with apparent misinformation, extremely alienating.

Also oversized to compensate for the low price-per-kilogram

Supersizing produce for economic reasons is a myth.

Oversized fruits and vegetables mostly exist because they were "missed" during the previous harvesting round. A cucumber that is ripe but isn't harvested because it was hiding behind some leaves, will be oversized the next day. Same goes for a lot of other produce.

Farmers receive the highest price for produce that's the "right" size. Other sizes will be auctioned off with a lower quality rating and get a lower price per kg. Also, the boxes are made for regular sizes and they can be packed more efficiently.

If a supermarket sells inferior products for a higher price, it's because the supermarket wants to do that and not because the other parts of the market chain force them to.

> A cucumber that is ripe but isn't harvested because it was hiding behind some leaves, will be oversized the next day.

A year ago I would've shrugged this off as an exaggeration, but after my wife decided to grow cucumbers last summer I've seen first hand how fast those things grow.

Feel lazy one day, wake up to little shop of horrors the next.

A farm up the hill from where I live produces eggs from several thousand free-range chickens, and they sell them on site with a vending machine by the dozen. They also sell "catering" eggs in trays of 30, for under half the price of a dozen standard eggs. These are irregular shapes (too elongated for "large" egg boxes) and double-yolk eggs. All perfectly tasty and edible, but cosmetically unsaleable. I'm happy to take advantage of the opportunity to buy them!

At the same time, it's also good to know that there's no wastage here. All the non-standard produce goes into cakes, quiches and other commercial products where the appearance isn't noticeable.

I've always been curious how people bake with non-standard size eggs. How do you translate a recipe that calls for "3 eggs" when your egg sizes are all different?

Most recipes are very lax in their quantities. The size of an egg doesn't usually make much difference, at least for the cooking and baking I do.

For the most part, they are a mixture of sizes including both large and small, so it usually evens out. They are rejects primarily because of shape (can't be packaged in standard containers, too long and they would break when the lid was closed; too small and they would move around and crack) or because they have double yolks (purely cosmetic). The cosmetic look was a bit offputting at first--we are all used to the expected appearance with a single yolk--but it makes zero difference to the taste.

Cooking ≠ baking. For baking small changes in relative quantities can actually make a huge difference — maybe not for your simple cake batter but definitely for more elaborate bakes, and even relatively simple standards such as brioche dough. It won’t ruin the result but it will change the outcome.

it sounds like the poorer quality produce you're describing is just coming from lower quality farms?

I have no clue how the supply chain works, but I don't think produce from the same source is separated by the quality you're describing.

It generally is, almost all produce is graded and sold by its grade.

my original post wasn't clear.

what I meant was one farm generally wouldn't have a crop that yields "great" produce that tastes great while simultaneously having produce that is:

> plasticky, perfect-looking, and utterly tasteless.

these would generally come from completely different crops and farms.

I understand that produce is graded by physical appearance but that produce of varying condition from the same crop would pretty much taste the same, which leads to the whole discussion about ugly produce.

It's good that the less shopper-favorable produce is put to use, but I'm always curious about the somewhat analogous-to-ugly-fruits case with milk: Looking at the dairy fridge and choosing solely by expiration date.

Naturally, I choose the latest to expire to maximize my options within the consumption time-frame. And I think everyone does?

But do you actually care about food waste if every time you make that decision the earlier-stocked milks that are still around, and set to expire sooner, are pretty much guaranteed to not be purchased?

I guess I have no idea of the scale here, or even how much is wasted. It just seems like there would naturally be some sort of price-tiering of dairy products based on expiry to incentivize what might be a better overall consumption.

Products nearing the best before date are typically sold at a discount at least where I’m from. And those that don’t get sold but are still edible get increasingly donated to the needy instead of just being thrown away. There’s a big movement going on to reduce retail waste. In France grocery stores are required by law to donate food that doesn’t get sold.

I always remember that Noah's Bagels would make certain to throw away excess bagels at the end of the day. It's probably, unfortunately, America-specific, but when I asked why staff said if they gave away "old" baked-goods and someone were to get sick they would be liable to lawsuit.

It's unfortunately a popularly repeated belief it's just FUD without any supporting evidence. Usually the real answer is simply that it's cheaper to discard.

A bakery will still try to optimize supply and demand as much as possible; machine learning algorithms can help with things like that as well (predicting demand). For a bagel shop it'll also help if they can produce something on short notice.

Of course, said shops will also need to have something on display at all times to lure customers in, so there will always be some waste. As long as the percentage of waste remains low it should be fine. Besides, food waste isn't too bad for the environment (relatively), it's fully biodegradable.

Generally speaking, there are Good Samaritan laws that avoid that. The issue more often is that stores don't want to deal with the headaches that can stem from being a place for those who are unhoused to congregate for free food. It's rarely good for business.

Usually though (in France at least) it's not the shop giving out free bagels at the back after they close down, they hand the leftovers to local associations that do the redistribution part.

I know a bakery operator who said the health code required throwing away unsold baked goods with butter content at the end of the day, when I asked him about donating to the homeless.

It's not evil or stupid. It's the law.

I'd want to see a specific law citation before I believe that. I'm sure you're trying to report what he said accurately, but he may have been misleading or mistaken.

"The food shall be cooked and served, served if ready to eat, or discarded within 4 hours from the point in time when the food is removed from temperature control;"

https://www.ehso.uic.edu/UserFiles/Servers/Server_82316/File... pg 36

It's in a different state (each has their own code), but it'll do.

That only applies to "potentially hazardous food". A baked good doesn't fit the definition. Butter in the recipe doesn't matter. A cream filling might, so perhaps that caused some confusion?

Also "four hours" isn't really an "end of the day" thing... And if they're in temperature control at the end of the day, then four hours is plenty of time to get them distributed and consumed.

Baked goods, like cakes, are made fresh each morning. They are served at room temperature. At the end of the day, they are thrown out because the health code says so. 4 hours is the Illinois limit.

Here's an FDA list of TCS (Temperature Controlled for Safety) foods:


Note butter, whipped cream, eggs, all part of frosting and fillings for baked goods.

Here's the 4 hour window again:


From a chemical standpoint: butter/eggs mixed with sugar (even if it's cooked) is substantially different and more likely to spoil than butter/egg mixed with flour and cooked.

You should throw out cakes and cream puffs. You can donate bagels and challah bread.

I'm HACCP Certified: That's an odd interpretation of the law. From the section you're quoting:

"If time only, rather than time in conjunction with temperature, is used as the public health control for a working supply of potentially hazardous food before cooking, or for ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food that is displayed or held for service for immediate consumption"

Many baked goods are not considered "potentially hazardous foods". Things filled or frosted fall into a different grouping, but most plain breads (even those including eggs or butter) are shelf stable for days. They suffer a sever drop in culinary quality (ie; stale) but they don't suffer a drop in culinary safety.

Maybe the guy is extremely risk averse, maybe his area has a very zealous food safety department, but it seems like he's not super interested in trying to make this happen (which is fine, he can spend his time doing whatever he want).

The section you cite applies to 'potentially hazardous foods', which generally are foods held at hot or cold temperature, not baked goods held at room temperature (even baked goods with butter in them).

A law can be evil and or stupid...

It's often about incentives. Why buy if you can wait until the shop is about to close and get it for free? Or as an employee, why care about food wastage if it gives you lot of free goods you can take home?

>>Naturally, I choose the latest to expire to maximize my options within the consumption time-frame. And I think everyone does?

I certainly used to, but now that I have a toddler that consumes an unreal amount of milk, I just buy whatever's at the front. It'll be gone in 4 days regardless.

That's just it; everyone should buy according to what they use. I'm sure there's a lot of people that only buy milk by the gallon, accepting that they have to toss it by the end of the week regardless of how much has been used.

This is of course also because big quantities are cheaper; when buying milk or most produce really, the cost isn't in the product itself, it's in the packaging, handling, shipping and refrigerating.

> Naturally, I choose the latest to expire to maximize my options within the consumption time-frame. And I think everyone does?

No, I've never done this for milk. I just take the first one on the shelf and trust the supermarket to sell me milk that will last for a few weeks. I don't really look at the price, either. I'm going to buy it anyway so it doesn't seem like very valuable information (same for other staples like bread, rice, butter, etc.)

In the very rare case when the supermarket makes a mistake with expiration dates (maybe once every 10 years), you can just take it back and get some more milk. It would be a very minor inconvenience, so I don't worry about it.

This is just bad produce management from the shops.

Longer-Expiry products at the back, newer at the front.

But I know at my local supermarkets nobody gives a shit, Frequently I'll buy the same product twice in a row, and the item on the second day expires before the one on the first.

All their staff just chucks the new shit at the front. The milk is even worse, as they just combine the half-empty early-date trollies and wheel out a fresh late-date one.

I'd say it all gets sold. But I have a /marvellous/ view of their bins. They throw so much stuff out.

But they are all sold for the same price, and it takes about 1 second to reach for the back of the shelf. There's nothing stopping this, and I refuse to pay the same price for an inferior product. There should be automatically applied increasing discounts as the product approaches the expiration date, so there's some reason beyond laziness to pick the less fresh ones.

> I refuse to pay the same price for an inferior product.

Even if you're going to use it long before the date matters, so you get an identical experience anyway?

> There should be automatically applied increasing discounts as the product approaches the expiration date, so there's some reason beyond laziness to pick the less fresh ones.

That sounds like a bunch of labor that will make things more expensive. If they really want to trade effort for getting two-day-older stock cleared out, they can just let the shelf get closer to empty before restocking.

Sounds like poor management TBH; they can know exactly how much milk they need to stock to minimize waste.

But there's a balance between maximizing sales with more safety stock and minimizing waste with less, because of uneven demand fluctuations.

Ah, but if the 2-pint jugs of standard semi-skimmed milk are out of stock, maybe you buy the 1-pint or the 4-pint or the organic.

The customer response depends on both the product category and the time of day, for obvious reasons. And I guarantee the likes of Wal-Mart will have run studies on this and chosen the optimal ordering level for milk in their stores.

I have never done this, and I gently suggest you stop. Do you really need those extra few days of milk expiration? If the milk with the soonest expiration date was the only one available, would you buy it or just walk out without milk? A good rule to avoid tragedy of the commons situations is to think “what if everyone did as I do?”. This is a pretty classic example here.

Do you really need those extra few days of milk expiration?

Absolutely. Even when getting the milk with the farthest away expiration data I rarely end up finishing a whole carton of milk until 1 or 2 days after that date. Without those few extra days, half the milk risks getting poured down the sink.

If the milk with the soonest expiration date was the only one available, would you buy it or just walk out without milk?

If I didn't really need milk that day, I'd almost certainly skip it. If really needed milk I'd buy it and possibly end up pouring half of it down the sink because I almost never manage to use a whole carton of milk in 3-4 days

Milk goes bad much quicker once opened though, check if they have smaller bottles available. It's often more expensive per liter but at least it doesn't end up in the sink.

To add to your point, I notice many people obey expiry dates in a strangely strict manner. I regularly consume dairy products (including milk) that are 5-7 days past their expiry date. If it looks/smells/tastes fine, just use it. I don't even remember a dairy product ever going bad in my fridge. I've heard people say they immediately throw away things like yogurt as soon as the expiry date passed, which I find totally ridiculous.

I do this and the main reason is that milk with the greatest number of days has also been on the shelf for the least amount of time and consequently has probably had fewer things happen to it - like the refrigerator door being left open and the milk being warmed (slightly).

For other items I reach in and take items from behind the first row for similar reasons since the retailer may have put returned items (which might be slightly spoiled or damaged) up front. This is also the reason I never take the last item of anything.

So there's more too it than simple expiration dates. Retailer subterfuge is also a factor.

Depends where you live and your household consumption . In Sweden milk expires usually 3-7 days after you buy it. If you are alone and don't drink that much, it does make a big difference buying the one that expires in 7 days vs the one in 3-4 days (there is no discount except if it expires 1 day after purchasing)

> In Sweden milk expires usually 3-7 days after you buy it.

What's the typical date on it, relative to purchase and expiration?

In the US milk is usually given a sell-by of three weeks after pasteurization, and actually lasts almost a week beyond that.

Though it depends some on fridge temperature, could...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15553644 https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/65579/why-do-fri... https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1541-4337.12... huh.

Very true. The last milk I bought was Darigold here in the US, and the sell-by date was sometime in March.

I don't know what they're doing to extend its shelf life so much, but as a childless sometimes-uses-milk home, I love it, and couldn't care less about the exact dates.

Maybe you bought UHT milk? That has a shelf life of months.

Yup, learned something. thanks!

Ultra pasteurized simply means that the milk has been heated under pressure at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time (280° for two seconds versus 167° at 15 seconds for standard pasteurized).

- http://www.darigold.com/faqs

When I was single, yeah. I regularly had to pour out milk I didn't have time to drink before it went bad.

Now that I have a kid, I'm happy to buy the discounted short-expiration-date stuff since it'll be gone in 2 days no matter what.

I also have this more general problem of struggling to use what I buy before it goes bad. Some of the worst offenders are items that are prepackaged, spoil too quickly after opening and are sold only in packages that are too large for my needs (e.g. cream).

>Do you really need those extra few days of milk expiration?

The only thing I use milk for is in my morning coffee. I usually buy half liter cartons and even then I often end up with the milk going bad before I'm through with it. So yeah, I do.

Why not buy creamer packets?

Because they taste terrible. Plus, I'm not convinced that this is environmentally friendly.

I'd imagine because they like milk in their coffee, not creamer.

Thank you for your reply, I will try to adjust my behavior.

> Naturally, I choose the latest to expire to maximize my options within the consumption time-frame. And I think everyone does?

I have recently started to deliberately mix ages when I see a variation, knowing that at least some of it will be consumed pretty soon and order will be assured by the way I arrange out fridge contents. It feels unjustifiably good.

It doesn't applies to every products (and it's probably different depending on which country you live in) but you also have to check if it's a "best before" or a "used by" date. I've ate dairy products 1-2 weeks after the "best before" date and they were exactly like the day I bought them. If it doesn't smell / looks funky it's usually fine to eat.


This seems flawed in that you're encouraging companies to produce milk that lasts longer above all else. I'd rather they prioritize quality. If there's a brand that tastes better to me, I'm likely to buy their milk over milk that lasts longer. My impressions of how each company treats their livestock and the size/locality of the company plays a part, too, but my knowledge there is limited.

To ensure it doesn't go bad, I purchase in smaller quantities. I'm unlikely to buy a full gallon of milk at once.

What I do is, if I’m going to buy 4-6 pcs, I take 2-3 with the furthest date and the rest older, depending on the dates and my projected needs.

The ugliest fruits never make it to the market. Step-son of greengrocer here. Really, the most clear example to me is the fact that perfectly good fruits and vegetables get 'turned over' during harvest season because they do not fetch the minimum amount and are turned into cattle feed.

In India, it goes beyond that. Supply chains are extremely ineffective, and farmers basically sell to middle men. Often these are sold in chain to several other people before they go to the market.

Many times the farmers are given such a low ball offer, that is basically expecting them to sell for loss. The farmer does the obvious. Takes their produce, dump in a lake near by as garbage, because it often doesn't economic make sense to take it back.

Sometimes its worse than that. They just take their lorry and drive over the produce in the market and just take a bus back.

> Many times the farmers are given such a low ball offer, that is basically expecting them to sell for loss. The farmer does the obvious. Takes their produce, dump in a lake near by as garbage, because it often doesn't economic make sense to take it back.

That doesn't make any economic sense either. How is "selling at a loss" (i.e. taking in less money than it costs to produce) worse than dumping the produce (taking in no money whatsoever)?

There has to be some other factor at play here.

>>How is "selling at a loss" (i.e. taking in less money than it costs to produce) worse than dumping the produce (taking in no money whatsoever)?

I guess its just a way of saying they won't negotiate to sell at low prices ever. Because once you do, people use it as precedence to bargain again.

Also stifle the supply to some extent and the next time around the demand goes up.

They don’t want a “kick me” sign on their back?

I guess "spite" might be an underappreciated factor of real-world (un-)economics.

That's exactly the point she's trying to make - they don't get wasted, only re-purposed.

Cattle feed makes that point a lot stronger than jam does.

Further down she mentions it:

"When produce is too far gone to sell & there's no processing market (say, melons), it often gets fed to livestock."

She mentions cattle feed a bit further on: https://twitter.com/SarahTaber_bww/status/108605510475784192...

Which point? That it's being wasted, or that it's being repurposed? Because meat production sure sounds very wasteful to me.

Meat won't stop being fed just because there's no ugly produce, so whether meat production is wasteful is kinda irrelevant. Ugly produce not wasted on cattle will just lead to more fields being wasted to grow food for cattle.

>every once in a while you'll run into a variety of produce that only really works for fresh & doesn't lend well to processing. This mostly happens w leafy greens (we don't make … lettuce sauce)

I wish I could buy frozen lettuce. Lettuce can be cooked (e.g. for lettuce soup), and cooked lettuce loses the crisp texture, so there's no drawback to freezing it first. The idea that lettuce is only a salad vegetable is an irrational tradition, like the idea that there are foods only suitable (or unsuitable) for breakfast. I'd eat more lettuce if it wasn't so expensive compared to frozen spinach.

In my experience, I've accidentally heated lettuce when making some kind of salad which makes it really bitter. Because of that, I've thought of lettuce as only fresh food. Is that not the case then?

Lettuce soup is traditional in some countries:


I'm not sure if heating actually increases the bitterness of lettuce, or just the perception of bitterness because the softer texture makes better contact with your tongue. I personally am not very sensitive to bitter tastes, but if you are, you could use a smaller portion. Easy portion control is another advantage of frozen vegetables, because you don't have to worry about the unused portion rotting.

It's good in fried rice too.

Welp that’s a rant. Here’s an example where integrated supply chains and arbitrary supermarket standards cause eye-watering levels of waste: https://vimeo.com/223234033

Actually it isn't. It's the same kind of poor research that the rant is about. Those are cosmetic specifications for supermarket stock, nowhere does it say what happens with the produce that doesn't meet them. It's simply insinuated that it goes to waste, but that isn't true.

The supermarkets know very well what kind of produce doesn't sell, so these specs actually prevent waste, because unsold produce that is about to spoil really does go to waste.

If you had watched the 2min video, you would have seen the bananas being dumped in piles - a banana mountain. Here is an article on the same video: https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/war-on-waste...

Other people and the original source mention food rotting because it cannot be picked before it spoils, which is probably a problem. But in the case of these bananas, they have been picked and made it all the way to a sorting facility, and could be sent to somewhere for consumption. These bananas may be worse than the ones that rot in the field, because they are responsible for additional energy and labour expenditure.

The post originally linked to a youtube video of that same guy sitting in front of a laptop, researching specs. I did watch that one.

Again, even if those bananas see no other use than being dumped, that doesn’t mean they would’ve been consumed by actual humans if it hadn’t been for those standards. Some other organism will consume them instead.

One of my roommates in college was from Michoacan MX, and worked Washington state, Oregon and California's Central Valley/Watsonville growing up. At fruit stands this was standard practice.. inedible/bad fruit was tossed out but damaged fruit went into pies, salads and other products because it wouldn't sell as well, even 30-40 years ago.

The problem is manufacturers and retailers optimizing a deep supply-chain for what's easiest and most consistent: picking fruit green so it lasts a long time and doesn't get damaged.

There's a difficult-to-defend market for almost as beautiful but insanely delicious produce that can shorten the supply-chain and deliver just-in-time... hydroponics and gentler processing may help. How much would you pay for an apple or tomato if it were 3-8x better than the generic produce aisle? (People also want organic non-GMO if they're paying more.)

Finally, there's a good deal of issues around monoculture risks, especially with cloned products like bananas, that already had to be reengineered once and about to be tweaked again because of pest and disease evolution.

Two data points I have. My mother ran accounting for canneries. Turns out tomatoes that are too ripe for market get canned. Tomatoes that are too damaged for canning become hog food.

And a friends mom worked as at a Potato processing factory, 6 million lbs of potato's in, 4 million lbs of potato products out. 1 million lbs of hog food out. The remainder is dirt and rocks. This factory had a machine to cut damaged bits out of french fries with air knives.

I think the majority of waste is consumer side.

"Unlike most kinds of canned produce, which pale in comparison to their fresh counterparts, a great can of diced tomatoes offers flavor almost every bit as intense as ripe, in-season fruit."[0]

Just thought I'd share that canned tomatoes are delicious, better than fresh in many cases and cooks illustrated has some tremendous analysis on all varieties of canned tomatoes.


I seriously wish I knew how to buy B grade food. Slightly misshapen tomatoes at a discounted price? Sign me up. I feel like I'm not the only one too.

"Know what happens to most of the produce that's edible, has enough shape to survive in transit, but looks funny? IT GOES TO THE GROCERY STORES THAT POOR PEOPLE SHOP AT"

Her examples really don’t have very ugly produce in my experience. Like, all the stuff at Grocery Outlet or the Dollar Tree looks pretty damn good, although it’s often not very fresh. The only time I see really misshapen or bruised fruit is at the farmer’s market in discount bins. Is my experience abnormal?

My experience with Grocery Outlet leads me to think that their produce is usually stuff that's close to expiring, rather than things that are blemished.

Agreed. I buy about half my groceries from Grocery Outlet and it's more likely you'll sell slimey lettuce in bags nearing expiration, or nonperishable products that have been phased out, but from the same brands as "regular" stores. The fresh produce isn't even that much cheaper than say, a Kroger store and the quality is comparable.

Read: ethnic markets, 99 ranch, h-mart etc

Other candidates are foodmaxx and grocery outlet.

I've been to all of those places and other than the decor and maybe freshness they didn't seem that misshapen or blemished to me.

99 ranch? Really?

My understanding is that they, like many Asian markets, have exclusive long term deals with certain farms. Maybe only for certain types of produce?

Regardless, I find a lot of their produce, especially their greens, to be incredibly fresh and incredibly good looking — much better than what I can typically find at TJs or WF.

H Mart is closer to Whole Foods than an ethnic market. Ugly produce most certainly is not ending up there.

Since when has h-mart been a "poor people market"... Their stuff can get pretty expensive near me and usually has been pretty good quality when it comes to produce. Though to be fair their quality has been going down hill these past two years.

It doesn't though. A load of it just gets ploughed back into the ground.

Farmers markets that have actual farmers selling produce they grow. It's primarily the supermarkets and corporatized/lazy markets that sell primarily pretty cardboard.

Also, grow your own.. anyone with at least a balcony and sunlight in California has no excuse to grow tomatoes and peppers in the summer.

Grocery Outlet sells hydroponic Live Lettuce for cheap, including the mixed varieties box, at least here.

I have some friends who planted (4) four tomato plants in a ~6'x6' planter in their backyard. Fast forward a few months and they're overrun with tomatoes. Salsa, pasta sauce, food dehydrator running constantly, foisting their bounty upon friends and lovers. I was severely impressed by their yield.

We've grown tomatoes every year for the past 10 years or so so this sounds very familiar. It's not difficult - to be honest all you do is stick them in the ground and leave them to it!

I should add that tomatoes freeze very well as long as you're using them for sauces, soups etc.

Just speculating here without any knowledge. But this question made me think. So let's say food industry has lots of "ugly" (whatever that means) fruits that are not sold directly but used in other products. And because of that they are sold much cheaper. Then along comes someone, and notices that:

"hey theres a huge amount of fruits that are being sold very cheap. Is there a way i could sell then for more?"

So you start a spreading idea that ugly fruit get's waisted and this this is not eco friendly etc. And next thing you know someone on HN is asking "where do i get these ugly fruits" :)

And yes it can be sold cheaper than normal fruits, but if it's more profitable than turning them in to jam, then it's a win.

By the way, not saying that it's wrong, just an interesting way to manipulate people to not being picky and eat all the fruits.

Doesn't really make sense from the seller side. There isn't more profit in driving down price and demand for perfect looking produce. It would just smooth out the pricing and eliminate the premium for fancy looking produce

Quite a few supermarkets in the UK have started selling "Wonky Veg":



Here in New Zealand the Chinese supermarkets seem to stock a lot of it. The prices are lower and the vegetables still taste fine, just look uglier.

A lot of it ends up in Fijian supermarkets.

It's sometimes a thing in Germany. At least there were articles about stores doing that a few years back. Haven't seen any of those (neither articles nor ugly-bins) in a while though.

I don't know if it's common in the USA, but it's common for markets in the weekends to sell seconds.

I've since moved cities, but I used to be able to get a week's worth of fruit and vegetables for under $10. Most items were under $2 per kg.

I think there are some services that do this, e.g. https://www.imperfectproduce.com

Subscribed to this for several months.

90%+ of what they shipped me was ordinary surplus produce. Even the "ugly" carrots they sent me were ... just ordinary carrots, as far as I could tell.

Sounds like you stopped using it, could you share why? I'm curious if their service was good.

I used it for several months and tracked the prices, and with delivery and the box fee it's about the same price as the grocery store except that you have limited choices and they tend to cycle between the same things. Most of the vegetables were legit normal looking, but a lot of the fruits were small.

The prices were about the same as my local grocery store -- in some cases higher. But I found a live cockroach in one of the boxes they shipped me and it freaked me out too much to continue.

In the Netherland, France, Belgium and other EU countries they started selling ugly food again.

They are sold very cheap like 'outlaws' or expensive as 'real bio'.

What I understand is that we have 3 visual classes. Some in the third class can be sold by law but as seller you have to check every peace. So it is more easy to skip that class. And just to be save most supermarkets just skipped the second class also.

I saw this article about the ugly food getting thrown out from the BBC, citing a study about food waste from the University of Edinburgh. So who am I to believe? The University of Edinburgh or some Twitter ranter?


On one hand, the BBC and most universities tend to be fairly reliable sources of information. On the other, this Twitter user’s argument is fairly logical and, despite the coarse wording, isn’t really making any extraordinary claims. Her statements make sense and align with my own observations, as well as my understanding of economics.

Is it possible they’re both right? These matters are rarely as simple as they seem; it’s not inconceivable that there’s a fair amount of truth to both sides, and I’m willing to bet they could find quite a bit of common ground.

Her arguments are very reasonable and truthy sounding, I agree. The thing is that the harder I try to get my story straight on food, the more convoluted the story becomes, and this item is illustrative of that.

I didn't see any numbers anywhere, so I'll add this one: according to a recent show on Swedish television, about 30% of all food produced is wasted somewhere along the way to our mouths.

"Ugly fruit doesn't sell" is just one part of it, there's waste all along the chain of production, and not least in the homes. Modern society tends to interpret "best before" as "poison after", which leads to a lot of food being needlessly thrown away.

According to the Swedish food agency (or something like that), the average person in Sweden throws 19 kg of food in the thrash and pours 26 kg of food in the sink every year.

That's 10% of consumption, a non-issue.

If we can reduce global CO2 emissions by 0.7% and methane emissions by 5% at the cost of actually eating the food we buy (and also save money in the process), I'd say that's pretty low hanging fruit in the efforts to reduce global warning.

Naturally, I choose the latest to expire to maximize my options within the consumption time-frame. And I think everyone does?

I have recently started to deliberately mix ages when I see a variation, knowing that at least some of it will be consumed pretty soon and order will be assured by the way I arrange out fridge contents. It feels unjustifiably good.

Thanks https://mytellthebell.com

I thought those sets of tweets interesting and would love to have the views of other people in this field.

I have some friends in silicon valley that subscribed to this online delivery service for ugly produce: https://www.imperfectproduce.com

It looks to me like a mix of too much disposable income, and getting brag rights at dinner party for virtue signaling.

Mostly virtue signaling, and a clever way for the producer / seller to actually get more money for their produce than "nice looking" would - a LOT more than if it were used in a factory product where it would normally end up in.

I'm subscribed to change my consumption habits and it has worked for the most part. I usually don't buy enough fruit and vegetables when I shop for myself and avoid certain vegetables completely. Imperfect fixes this for me. Fruit and vegetables just appear every week and once they're in my home I"m too cheap to let them go to waste so I end up eating them.

I'd subscribe to normal produce delivery instead if that were an option. I don't really care about the "imperfect" part and the premium over my local supermarket is pretty negligible

Let’s write an article about fruits and veggies, about 1000 words long (didn’t count), and split it in short strings of max 280 characters.

Twitter is weird.

Can't help think that we are conditioned to think that ugly food is bad food. The kids in my circle of friends, mine included, would not touch a banana that has black spots on it or if the broccoli looks slightly off colour. Usually they would grow out of this type of bias, but judging from the observations of the general public, I am not so sure any more.

To be honest, I believed the "ugly fruit get thrown away" narrative too. But her explanation actually makes a lot of sense.

Our family has been loving No Name's "Naturally Imperfect" line recently. [0]

And from the looks of it's growth in Ontario grocery stores, the program is doing quite well.

[0] https://www.noname.ca/en_CA/naturally-imperfect

Even high end restaurants will take these things that are not presentable on a plate and turn them into soups, sauces, etc. because any decent chef knows that "dented cans" and ugly fruit taste the same as pretty ones. It's the everyday routine.

There’s some interesting work on food, mainly produce, supply chain management to more effectively prevent losses.

Let's not forget the old favorite: burn it in an alembic and drink it!

The adage "don t want to see how sausage made" in full swing

Is there something wrong with that?

Twitter posts like these have an interesting bullet point writing style you don't see in most places. I personally enjoy this style

It would be much better as a once-piece article. I am still at loss at why people use twitter to write long forms. I mean, you know it's going to be long. Put it on Medium (or whatever, I don't care where it is) and if you need Twitter audience, post a link.

Yes, I know threaders exist. But that's solving a problem that shouldn't have existed at the first place.

OTOH, in my eyes, posts like that is pretty much the only redeeming feature Twitter have left by now...

It's easy to retweet a thread, and to start reading a retweeted thread because it's right there in Twitter. Reading an article from a tweeted link is a bigger effort investment.

Also, Twitter threads lend itself to stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Putting together an actual article will involve drafting and editing and be more work.

This is such a sad commentary on what the Internet has become.


> be much better as a once-piece article

Not really. I hate articles where people ramble on and go full-dostoyevski instead of getting to the point.

You don't have to ramble. Just putting all the tweeted content into one post would be fine. Not having to split your post into 9000 tweets doesn't mean you can't write the same concise way.

Of course it ends with a link to her podcast

Does that really matter if you got value from the information presented?

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