Fight food waste with “fugly” food

26th February 2021 | Alison Turner

Did you know that around 25 percent of Australian fruits and vegetables never leave the farm gate because they’re a bit odd-looking? Since this not-so-pretty produce doesn’t meet the visual specifications of some supermarkets, it often just ends up going to waste… and Australia already has a big enough food waste problem as it is.

Anyone who’s bought fresh, local produce direct from the grower at their neighbourhood farmers’ market would already know that quality isn’t about perfect proportions. Quality produce is all about how it tastes (amazing) and how it was grown – with loving care.

Just because a piece of fruit isn’t pretty enough to have its own legion of Instagram followers, it doesn’t mean it’s not still great to eat. Some studies even suggest that wonky or marked fruit and veg might be even better for you, possibly containing more antioxidants.

All of this is why newly launched start-up Good & Fugly has decided to give those imperfect – or “fugly” – fruits and vegies more of a fighting chance. Good & Fugly is the first delivery service of its kind in Australia to rescue wonky, quirky and misshapen fruit and vegetables and deliver curated seasonal boxes fresh to consumers’ doors.

Wonky or not, fresh fruit and vegies are full of essential nutrients.

Every box is filled with fresh, seasonal produce that comes direct from farmers. What’s in the boxes varies from week to week due to what’s in season, but the team aims to include staples like potatoes, onions and leafy greens in every order.

Good & Fugly deliveries are rapidly expanding across the Greater Sydney region, and consumers across Australia are being encouraged to register their fugly fruit and veg interest via goodandfugly.com.au so the team knows where to expand its offering next.

“We want Good & Fugly to be a nationwide offering,” says company founder Richard Tourino. “We can see the waste issue and we know consumers are keen to make a positive impact by jumping on board the fugly revolution. We’re also encouraging farmers to get in touch with us so their quirky, misshapen produce doesn’t go to waste.”

#nofilter: check out these tasty beauties.

Use your power as a consumer

While some fruits and vegetables might be a tad quirky in the looks department, their appearance doesn’t have any impact on their flavour or their nutritional value, meaning that if you buy more “fugly” produce, you can eat well and fight food waste at the same time.

“Most people wouldn’t know that a quarter of fruit and vegies never leave the farm simply because they’re considered ‘ugly’,” says Lisa McLean, CEO of NSW Circular, which is working to create a zero-carbon circular economy in NSW.  “It tastes great, but this narrow view of quality food is contributing to unnecessary and significant wastage. In fact, three percent of Australia’s carbon emissions come from organic waste.

“We hold enormous power in the choices we make as consumers. Supporting these types of businesses and initiatives will drive wider systemic change towards a circular and sustainable future where we design out waste and appreciate the true value of produce that is grown.”

Sure, they might look pudgy, but you’ll still get to eat a perfect pear.

Pudgy pears, warped eggplants and scruffy mangoes

Harris Farm Markets has been showing funny-looking produce some much-needed love for the past six years. Imperfect Picks is the chain’s seasonal range of fruit and veg that might not look so pretty on the outside, but is still full of flavour and nutrients on the inside.

Harris Farm is selling pudgy pears, lumpy apples, warped eggplant, twisted sweet potatoes, unruly zucchini and scruffy mangoes at up to half the price of the “prettier” produce. So, by purchasing an Imperfect Pick, you’re not just supporting Aussie farmers and helping to reduce food waste, you’re also saving yourself some dough while you’re at it.

Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Over the past six years, the Imperfect Picks range has saved more than 28 million kilos of fruit and vegetables from going to landfill. This equates to around 100,000 kilos of perfectly good fruit and vegies every week. The chain has also now doubled the Imperfect Picks range to give Aussie shoppers a wider variety of produce to select from.

“We say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and it’s never been more accurate when it comes to buying fruit and vegetables,” says Harris Farm co-CEO Tristan Harris. “What looks perfect might not be the best option for the environment, Aussie farmers or your hip pocket. The choices you make at the supermarket can make a big impact.”

Eat fugly and do good. By choosing to buy local produce based on freshness and seasonality rather than outward appearance, you’ll be doing something genuinely positive. To find your local farmers’ market, head to farmersmarkets.org.au. To order a Good & Fugly box, head to goodandfugly.com.au. To order Imperfect Picks online head to harrisfarm.com.au