Something Ugly is Spreading in the Fruit and Veggie Kingdom

ugly-veggies-small
“Look away, look away…we are hideous!”

If you are a foodie and have your social media feeds set to get news about anything to do with fresh fruits and vegetables, you have probably witnessed some very ugly posts over the past couple of years. Gross, distorted and repulsive are some of the words used to describe the images that have spewed forth from a new “ugly” movement. Not only do these pictures tend to make one shun their eyes, but at times they border on pornographic. But at Produce Buzz we are thrilled it is happening and hopes it gains even more momentum!

Sorry if we misled you, but we are not talking about the latest fetish from the adult film industry or nasty barbs from some extreme political party. We are talking about “ugly” fruits and vegetables. These are those produce items that are misshapen and/or off color and years ago would have been culled out by growers and shippers of fresh produce because the grocery stores could not sell them to their customers. And face it, you know you’ve seen pics of those slightly pornographic ones online: carrots and squash with highly suggestive anatomic parts. You’ve laughed at them but have you bought one yet? Probably not because most grocery stores couldn’t get away with stocking on their produce racks.

But thanks to several groups around the world who are working to end food waste, consumers are being re-educated to learn that a misshapen veggie may be just as good or better than the perfectly proportioned version.

Yes, the ugly fruit and veggie movement is strong and getting stronger every week. It’s a very positive trend that hopefully will greatly diminish the estimated 50% of fruits and vegetables that are wasted as they go from the farm to the plate. The United Nations FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates that the land used to grow food that is eventually wasted amounts to 30% of the world’s agricultural land area and the water needed for them equates to the annual discharge of the Volga River. So the need to lessen this environmental impact is coming to the attention of many in the world’s food supply chain.

Many grocery stores are doing their part to buy these once discarded products. And not only buy them but to aggressively market them in stores to their customers. While a few grocery chains in the U.K. were ahead of the big push, the movement started first in a big way in Europe about three years ago. A campaign called “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” was launched in France with some humorous ads and publicity. Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, teamed up with UK grocery ASDA with the tagline “Beautiful on the Inside” and soon everyone in Britain was talking about “wonky” veggies. Down Under, Woolworths launched their “Odd Bunch in Australia” marketing efforts and it suddenly it was a worldwide movement.

The U.S. was slower to get involved, but once it got started, a good number of the major grocery chains jumped on board. Last year Giant Eagle, Hannaford, Whole Foods, Hy-Vee and even Walmart had their own versions of ugly produce on their shelves. And brands who specialize in ugly produce are starting to emerge. One brand called “Misfits” is now distributed in over 300 stores across the U.S.

Now there are similar marketing efforts spreading around the world. Sixteen countries have grocery stores pushing these former veggie outcasts, including Canada, Spain, Belgium, Sweden and South Africa. So the movement is an unquestionable success, but advocates for it say much more needs to be done.

Jordan Figueiredo, a Huffington Post contributor and self-proclaimed “Ugly Produce Expert,” says that, “…more than 20% of the world’s produce is left at the farm, mostly for cosmetic reasons. In addition, there is so much wasted food along the way to the store and at the store as well. Small pilots or programs for ugly produce, while great steps in the right direction, and let’s be honest – great publicity for supermarkets, will never be enough.” He believes that consumers need to demand from retailers transparency in their supply chains. “How else will these problems be solved unless they’re measured and held accountable for?”

Demanding transparency may help, but for now consumers can do their part by buying the produce misfits on the shelves at their local stores and asking for more of them. Grocery stores have learned to listen to their customers and respond. They have to in order to compete in an increasingly competitive retail space that is being encroached upon by online platforms.

So keep an eye out for those ugly, distorted and misshapen fruits and veggies, not just through your Twitter feed but on your local produce rack and try them out. You’ll be helping to solve the food waste problem and at the same time getting great value and nutrition, a bonus for your pocket book and your health.

Related Links:
National Geographic
NPR
United Nations FAO Report on Food Waste

 

Something Ugly is Spreading in the Fruit and Veggie Kingdom

Want to Lose Weight and Feel Better? Then Ditch the Fad Diets

The secret to weight loss and healthy diet is that there is no secret. Your mother’s advice, “Eat Your Vegetables!” is still the predominant wisdom when it comes to eating right. There’s no magic weight-loss pill or new undiscovered combination of superfoods that will replace her emotional plea. The latest research continues to point out that the way to good health and long life is eating lots of fresh foods, that is, fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and leafy greens.

PB-Postcard-Jan-2017-v2-front

In a new study by the American College of Cardiology, in which they surveyed some of the latest and most popular nutrition fads, including juicing, gluten-free diets and antioxidant pills, the scholars determined that most of the claims of the promoters of these ideas for nutrition are unsubstantiated.

Here are some of the key myths they addressed in their report:

  • Eggs and cholesterol: Although a U.S. government report issued in 2015 dropped specific recommendations about upper limits for cholesterol consumption, the review concludes, “it remains prudent to advise patients to significantly limit intake of dietary cholesterol in the form of eggs or any high cholesterol foods to as little as possible.”
  • Vegetable oils: According to the authors, coconut oil and palm oil should be discouraged due to limited data supporting routine use. The most heart-healthy oil is olive oil, though perhaps in moderation as it is still higher calorie, research suggests.
  • Berries and antioxidant supplementation: Fruits and vegetables are the healthiest and most beneficial source of antioxidants to reduce heart disease risk, the review explains. There is no compelling evidence adding high-dose antioxidant dietary supplements benefits heart health.
  • Nuts: Nuts can be part of a heart-healthy diet. But beware of consuming too many, because nuts are high in calories, said the authors.
  • Juicing:The authors explain that while the fruits and vegetables contained in juices are heart-healthy, the process of juicing concentrates calories, which makes it is much easier to ingest too many. Eating whole fruits and vegetables is preferred, with juicing primarily reserved for situations when daily intake of vegetables and fruits is inadequate. If you do juice, avoid adding extra sugar by putting in honey, to minimize calories.
  • Gluten: People who have celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity must avoid gluten – wheat, barley and rye. For patients who don’t have any gluten sensitivities, many of the claims for health benefits of a gluten-free diet are unsubstantiated, the authors conclude.

Food is the most important factor in ensuring good health and our best medicine. And fresh foods are the key part of that medicine cabinet. Produce Buzz was created to help spread this message far and wide. We are joining the crusade that has been going on in the nutritional and medical communities for a long time.

But still research shows that only a small percentage of people around the world get the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Please join us and bookmark the Produce Buzz Website and follow us in all of our social media channels.

And join in the conversation by sharing your favorite recipes, farmer’s markets finds and gardening triumphs. Welcome to the community!

 

 

Want to Lose Weight and Feel Better? Then Ditch the Fad Diets

The New York Times is Making You Fat!

reading newspaper
Are newspapers subtly suggesting to us what to eat? The research says…well..maybe!

The old expression, “You are what you eat” can be given a new twist after the conclusions of a new study were released this month. We can now say, “You are what you read” or at the very least, “You eat what you read.”

According to a study published in BMC Public Health by a research team from Cornell University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the obesity rate for the United States and Britain over the last 50 years has directly correlated to what types of food were most often mentioned in the New York Times and the London Times. The studies authors, Brian Wansink and Brennan Davis, concluded that, “United States obesity prevalence is positively associated with New York Times mentions of sweet snacks… and negatively associated with mentions of fruits… and vegetables. Similar results are found for the United Kingdom and The London Times.”

The researchers looked at articles from the past 50 years of the New York Times and for the past 17 years in London Times and set values based upon mentions of unhealthy salty and sweet snacks on one side and mentions of fruit and vegetables on the healthy side. That was then correlated to the obesity rates (Body Mass Index or BMI) of each nation. They concluded that the predominance of one or the other, unhealthy versus healthy food references, in the papers could generally predict the rise or fall of obesity rates three years ahead of time.

The study stated that obesity rates in U.S. has risen from 13.4% to 33.8% since 1960 while the U.K. obesity rate has risen from 15% to 25.4% since 1993. The researchers analysis showed that articles mentioning vegetables declined by 46 %, and articles mentioning fruits, salty snacks, and sweet snacks increased (92 %, 417 %, and 310 %) over the last 50 years in the New York Times.

No doubt many of you are already scratching your head at the potential flaws in this correlation. Even the authors Wansink and Davis admit that their study has “limitations worth discussing.” They rightly acknowledge that their research is not exhaustive and does not show any real evidence that the Times newspapers are the cause of the obesity. They certainly did not have time nor desire to study the context of the mentions of those unhealthy or healthy food words. In some cases the articles might not even be talking about food. One example they give in the caveats is that the term popcorn might have been used in an article describing Styrofoam packing materials for shipping.

So we take this study with a few grains of salt (Oh No! Has that phrase sent you to the kitchen looking for potato chips?). But at Produce Buzz, we think there could be something to this “power of suggestion.” Who among hasn’t experienced the sudden craving for ice cream or chocolate or a buttery box of popcorn after an ever so slight suggestion from a faint familiar smell or a ever so subtle mention of one of our favorite snacks? Did we succumb to the urge or did we bury it in our subconscious only to have it revive soon after? Similarly, suggestions of our favorite fruits and vegetables can send us in the opposite direction. So how we eat can depend greatly on what our minds are ingesting. That’s a big part of our mission at Produce Buzz—to keep the good food in the front of our readers’ minds as much as possible so we can help turn the tide on obesity.

Fifty years of fat: news coverage of trends that predate obesity prevalence

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The New York Times is Making You Fat!