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Deformed But Delicious: Student Campaign Combats Waste

Deformed carrots, knobbly lemons and discolored zucchini are deemed unsellable by German supermarkets, resulting in an enormous amount of food waste each year. Students here recently launched a campaign to help get the ugly specimens back on store shelves.

It doesn't take an advertising genius to know that unsightly goods are a hard sell. German supermarkets cottoned on to the principle a long time ago, which is why bruised and blemished produce rarely makes it onto their shelves.

Though fruit and vegetables sold in Germany are governed by European Union food regulations, individual supermarket chains require suppliers to meet stringent cosmetic standards, leading to nearly 40 percent of agricultural produce being destroyed, ploughed back into German fields as fertilizer or processed into other food products each year.

Misshapen fruit and vegetables are perfectly edible. In terms of quality, they are just as good as their more attractive counterparts -- that much has been confirmed by scientists. It's a message that three German students at the University of Weimar in the eastern state of Thuringia recently set out to spread among consumers.

Making More Sustainable Choices

Giacomo Blume, 25, Moritz Glück, 29, and Daniel Plath, 26 -- who major in visual communications -- have developed a campaign aimed at getting unsightly produce back into German households. They would like to see the creation what they call "Ugly Fruits" supermarkets -- stores that would focus exclusively on selling produce rejected by other chains.

The campaign aims to encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices. One initiative proposed by the graduates is to sell deformed produce from the back of garbage trucks at local farmers' markets, with the intention of shocking Germans into rethinking their consumer habits.

The campaigners believe that it's about time these agricultural oddities reclaimed their rightful place in German society.

"Whatever tastes good should end up on your plate, and not in the trash can," comments vegetable farmer Thomas Günthel, who is featured in the campaign. "No matter what it looks like."

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1. Unintended Consequences
Jim in MD 08/08/2013
"Or processed into other products" likely means your expensive juice or Knorr broth. How much is going to fertilizer? The article does not dig very deep, but my guess is that it is pulp being composted from food products. If you take the misshapen food for the grocery, then it may push up prices for that juice box or broth. More investigation is needed, please.
2. optional
peskyvera 08/08/2013
The Swiss super market chain 'Coop' is going to start selling 'deformed' produce. If it is edible and just because it isn't 100% 'pretty', still no reason to throw it out.
3. Another Easy Fix for Europe
4nd.you.know.this 08/08/2013
What you need to do is is embrace GM crops. There's less waste and pesticides needed. Why Europe wants to farm like its the 19th century is beyond me.
4. Another Easy Fix for Europe
bumbleboo 08/09/2013
Obviously the person that wrote "we (Europe) needs to embrace GM crops" is employed by the proponents of this poisonous method which would take over the world if Monsanto had its way! We don't want or need GM crops, our farms are producing excellent food and we are very happy that traditional methods are proven methods and that they will remain that way.
5. Another Easy Fix for Europe
sv2013 08/09/2013
@4nd.you.know.this, are you out of your mind? GMO is deadly and poisonous. There is zero nutrition in GMO products.
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