TEMPE – An Arizona State University department is giving ugly food a makeover, trying to change the way consumers shop for produce.
ASU’s School of Sustainability recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a day of festivities, including a free lunch made from ugly food.
“This food would normally not be sold because it has superficial blemishes, or something that makes the appearance not look good, but the food is perfectly fine,” Christopher Robinson, a graduate student, said.
Consumers may not want to buy apples that are not perfectly round, or strawberries that are not red enough. Fruits and veggies are culled, or sorted into lots that will either make its way to grocery stores and other food suppliers or be discarded.
Billions of pounds of edible produce gets tossed into landfills instead of onto people’s plates. That’s food that could help feed the hungry.
“Nearly 15 percent of U.S. households are food insecure,” said Christopher Wharton, associate professor at the ASU School of Nutrition.
Many local growers know certain produce won’t make the cut and choose to donate the food or use it as compost.
By the look of the food gracing the plates, many would never know their lunch started out as food too ugly to be sold in grocery stores.
“I wouldn’t know the difference. It was a delicious plate of food,” Ashley Knudsen, an ASU student, said.
The feast fed about 500 people with food that would have otherwise been thrown away.
The amount of food tossed by Americans is enough to feed two billion people, according to National Geographic. The waste costs consumers $165 billion dollars a year, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council.