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Fruits and vegetables in lunch lineThe French call it “inglorious food.” The British call it “wonky.” Canadians call it “naturally imperfect.” And in the U.S., we call it “ugly produce.” Whatever people label these misshapen, off-color or blemished fruits and vegetables, it has become a major source of food waste.

Just What Is Ugly Produce?
The USDA has strict guidelines regulating cosmetic standards for fruits and vegetables. The standards seek the most desirable size, shape and color for our produce. As a result, people have come to expect food perfection. When farmers cannot sell the produce they often plow it under or sell it for livestock feed.

Everyone Benefits from Using Ugly Produce
Buying ugly produce means you ensure there is a market for more affordable produce. It reduces food waste and makes it possible for farmers to sell more of what they grow.

Ugly Produce is Growing More Attractive
More and more businesses, retailers, nonprofits and environmentally conscious individuals are seeing the wisdom of using this valuable resource.

Ugly produce can be found  at local farmer’s markets, grocery stores and school cafeterias. The East Greenbush CSD Food Service Department encourages students to help by selecting produce on the lunch line that may appear less than perfect. Ugly produce is also used as ingredients in other school dishes, such as apples for warm apple cinnamon applesauce and carrots that are shredded and used in salads.

“We do our best to purchase produce from local venders and farmers according to seasons,” said Food Service Director Phyllis Sanford-Krug. “Some produce looks less than perfect but choosing to eat healthy fruits and vegetables is always the right choice to make.”