3 On Your Side: Campaign To Get Grocery Stores To Put Imperfect Produce On The Shelves

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Here’s an interesting fact, roughly 26 percent of America’s fruit and vegetables never make it off the farm because of their physical appearance. That’s right, it’s not pretty enough!

In today’s 3 On Your Side consumer report, a growing campaign to get the nation’s largest grocery stores to put imperfect produce on their shelves.

Christine Coke says up to half of her crops go to waste because of how they look.

Small and oddly shaped strawberries are some of the natural imperfections that lead to six billion pounds of wasted produce in the United States.

Even though it’s safe to eat, grocery stores want prettier produce.

“It’s really hard sometimes because you’re like, can’t you just, you know, accept that small little flaw,” said Coke.

Now there’s a push to get twisty carrots and conjoined cherries into stores at a reduced price in order to cut waste and feed the hungry.

“I just thought it was insane that all this good produce was going to waste for mostly cosmetic reasons, just looks, not taste or nutrition,” said Jordan Figueiredo, an activist fighting food waste.

Figueiredo’s started a social media campaign to celebrate ugly produce.

His online petition to have Walmart sell it has more than a hundred thousand signatures.

“Like it’s socially unacceptable to litter, make it socially unacceptable to keep throwing so much food in the garbage,” said Figueiredo.

Figueiredo convinced Whole Foods to sell imperfect produce in California stores for thirty to fifty percent less.

In Pennsylvania, Giant Eagle rolled out a similar program.

But for ugly produce to be the norm, farmers say consumers have to be willing to compromise and buy into something not so perfect.

Walmart says it has a pilot program to sell produce with imperfections in its United Kingdom stores and is looking at how it can transfer that model to its United States locations.

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