“Ugly” or “wonky” vegetables were responsible for as much as 40% of all the wasteful fruit and vegetables last year because the produce was rejected due to a lack of quality standards. The report estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food gets lost annually across the globe, and fruit and vegetables are among the most high percentage of food waste of any kind. What percentage of this is because of “ugly veg” being tossed by supermarkets and farms? The main culprit behind food waste could be closer to our homes than we’d like to admit.

“Ugliness” is just one of the reasons why food gets wasted from farm to fork. There’s also overproduction, inadequate storage, and even disease. But the issue with “wonky veg” caught the public’s attention.

A report released in 2017 indicated that the sales of “wonky veg” have increased in recent years because retailers have acknowledged the problem of wasting food items. However, it is estimated that as high as 25 percent of apples and 20 percent of onions, and 13% of the potatoes grown across the UK are discarded for cosmetic reasons.

“Wonky” carrots – the same as the prettier varieties.

Morrisons stated that people began to purchase more distorted food items, while Sainsbury’s and Tesco both mentioned that they have included “wonky veg” in their recipes, juices, soups, and smoothies.

However, most ugly veg are lost at the point of sale within the supply chain. WRAP is a non-profit organization who collaborate with the government in the fight against food waste since 2000 has investigated food waste on farms, and its preliminary results suggest that the main reason for the loss of fruit is the result of produce that fails to meet aesthetic standards. For instance, strawberries are usually removed if they’re the wrong size for supermarkets.

The National Farmers Union also revealed that in the year 2014 that 20 percent of Gala apples were wasted before being taken away from the farm gate because they were not at least 50% red in color.

Home is where the garbage is

There is a shift in attitudes about “ugly veg,” at least. Morrisons have launched an advertising campaign to promote their “ugly veg” produce aisle and other stores with similar offerings. However, household food waste is still the main culprit of wasted food in the UK. Around 5 million tonnes of food waste in the UK is a result of households, accounting for an astounding 70% of the food waste discarded after a farm gate.

Another million tonnes of food waste is lost in the industry of hospitality. The latest report by the government blamed huge portions. This suggests that despite the best efforts of campaigns like the Love Food Hate Waste – farmers and retailers are unfairly targeted by “wonky veg” campaigns at the expense of paying attention to the areas where food waste hits home. It was reported that the 2012 Global Food Security Report estimated the amount of garbage from hospitality and household use at 50% of the total UK food waste.

There are some indications that we’re improving. The WRAP’s study of 2015 found that at a household level, people are now wasting 1 million tonnes of food each year, less than in 2007. This is an astounding PS3.4 billion saved yearly by throwing away less edible items in the garbage.

Can growing more food at home reduce the food wasted in households? 

As the effects of climate change and its impact on extreme weather increase, cutting down on the waste of precious harvests will be more crucial. Knowing where the majority of the waste comes from, instead of being too focused on “wonky veg” in farms and supermarkets, is a critical step to ensure everyone has access to healthy and affordable food.

In the United Kingdom’s “Dig for Victory” campaign during World War II, most of the population needed to plant their fruits and vegetables. Nowadays, most inhabitants live in cities and towns, usually separated from the primary food production. In the UK, the MYHarvest initiative is beginning to discover the extent to which “own-growing” contributes to the national diet, and it appears that the demand for land for growing your own is rising.