Finding beauty in 'ugly' food

photo © Liat Shanan

photo © Liat Shanan

Do you seek out the "prettiest" produce when you're shopping at the grocery store or farmer's market? Well, you may be missing out -- and making an environmentally unfriendly choice -- if you're subjecting your fruits and vegetables to a beauty contest. 

A French supermarket chain is making news by celebrating "ugly" produce (think lopsided potatoes, knobby carrots and bowed cukes) to cut down on food waste. The store, Intermarché, created a "catwalk" for the less-than-perfect produce and sold the food for 30 percent less than its near-perfect counterparts.

Here's the kicker:

The store sold out of its blemished produce and reported an increase in store traffic of 24 percent.

Food that is organically grown and not genetically modified often won't be the most beautiful in the eye of the beholder, but flavor is rarely an issue.

How much do "looks" influence what produce you buy? Have you ever bought "ugly" fruits and vegetables, and how did you prepare them?

One of our wonderful Chicago Market volunteers, Liat, made the pickled carrots you see above from 35 pounds of knobby carrots. The farmer gave them to her for free because he couldn't sell them, which is great for Liat -- less so for the farmer. Chicago Market will celebrate produce in all its beauty and hopefully provide farmers with a Market filled with accepting shoppers.


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