Hideous Oranges, Disfigured Eggplants: Why You Should Eat Ugly Produce
We’ve all been there: You spot a misshapen tomato at the farmer’s market and immediately move on to its smoother, shinier neighbor.
But wonky fruits and vegetables are just as worthy as pretty produce — and an ad campaign in France is out to prove it.
Ad agency Marcel Worldwide created the “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign for supermarket chain Intermarché to see if customers would buy ugly produce if it was offered at a reduced price (typically grocery stores use imperfect-looking fruits and vegetables in packaged foods or throw them out).
The campaign features posters of misshapen produce with taglines such as “The ugly carrot in a soup. Who cares?” and “The failed lemon, from the creator of the lemon.” It also includes TV ads such as “The unfortunate clementine,” featured above, in which a lumpy clementine receives a pep talk.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, we waste 31 percent of our food supply each year — and funky produce is part of it. But nutritionists argue that there’s nothing wrong with fruits and vegetables that look a little off.
“Just because a piece of produce doesn’t have perfectly round edges or smooth skin doesn’t mean that it’s not just as nutritious as other produce,” nutrition expert Karen Ansel, R.D., author of The Calendar Diet tells Yahoo Health.
In fact, Ansel points out, many organic fruits and vegetables are less attractive than their non-organic counterparts, but they’re still nutrition powerhouses.
Ansel says it’s best to steer clear of produce that has visible mold or torn skin (the bacteria in it could make you sick), but lumps, bumps, and odd shapes are perfectly fine.
Of course, we gravitate toward food that looks pretty. “The art of eating is just that, an art,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Beth Warren, author of Living a Real Life with Real Food. “Smell, texture, and visual stimulation are all key to the enjoyment of eating.”
Warren says a good presentation will increase the odds you’ll eat something healthy, and color is key. Try adding different colors of fresh produce in a dish like red onions and yellow tomatoes, and sprinkle fresh herbs and spices over bland-colored food for extra visual appeal. (Color is also an indicator that produce is packed with nutrients, Ansel says.)
If you buy wonky produce — and there’s no reason not to — Ansel recommends taking a knife to it to ensure it will end up as more than fridge art. Slice uneven tomatoes and use them in a salad or chop them up and make a fresh, raw tomato sauce.
Carrots and zucchini often come in weird shapes, she points out, but they can be shredded and used in salads or veggie burgers to add extra fiber and flavor. And weird-looking fruits are made for smoothies, pancakes, and muffins.
Says Ansel: “No one will ever know that they were ugly ducklings.”
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