Ugly Produce: Perfectly Imperfect

June 22nd, 2021

By Lisa Jones MA, RDN

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, highlighting the role everyone plays in encouraging consumption of a variety of colorful and tasty foods. Want to kick off your summer in the right direction?  Explore the rainbow of possibilities when it comes to fruit and vegetables.  


Did you know about 30-40% of food is wasted in the United States?  Did you also know that there are some innovative programs that have been instituted to reduce the number of “ugly” fruits and vegetables that are discarded every day, even though they are as safe and healthy as other pieces of produce?  Here are some tips to practice produce inclusivity while helping to reduce food waste!  


Commit to Consumption

There is no question that fruits and vegetables provide a variety of nutrients, vitamins, fiber and minerals, while remaining low in calories, fat and sodium.  We should all be committing to increasing their consumption to maintain a consistent weight, and to lower our risk of developing certain chronic diseases.  Kick off your summer the right way by encouraging the consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables.  If you don’t want to serve “ugly” produce, it can easily be used in soups and smoothies and no one will know the difference. 


Leverage Leftovers

Just because it is a leftover doesn’t mean it’s a misfit or less delicious!  Unfortunately, there is sometimes a fruit or vegetable that’s just a little too big, too ugly, or too colorful for grocery to stock.  On occasion, there is also a surplus created from a better-than-expected growing season and, as a result, a lot of produce goes uneaten.  There are many companies, however, such as Hungry Harvest, that deliver rejected fruits and vegetables from farmers and wholesalers, and theirs service costs only $15-$35 per week. Other companies, such as Fruitcycle, create healthy fruit and veggie snacks using produce that would otherwise be sent to the landfill.  As an added bonus, the company also provides jobs to women who were formerly incarcerated, homeless, or otherwise disadvantaged. All of the produce is sourced from farms within a 100 mile radius of Washington, D.C. 


Find the Fun in Food

Make it a fun game!  Start by selecting a new fruit and vegetable each week at the grocery store or farmer’s market.  Experiment with different preparation methods to identify your favorites, and keep track of how many you are able to consume each day.  Ugly produce is just as nutritious and safe to eat as more attractive produce, and can often be available at a more affordable price.  


There are many ways to join forces in order to help reach the national food waste reduction goal of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030.  Start by applying some of these tips to reduce food waste, increase produce consumption and save money.  Just remember ugly produce is perfectly imperfect and still delicious!

Lisa Jones MA,RDN,LDN,FAND is a Philadelphia-based award-winning registered dietitian entrepreneur and owner of Lisa Jones LIVE.  She is a speaker, writer and humorist specializing in fueling messages with humor for connection that will motivate, educate and activate.  Lisa is currently serving as Delegate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics representing Pennsylvania.  She serves on the advisory board for Consultant 360. In 2014, Lisa was recognized as Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the Pennsylvania Academy, the highest honor bestowed upon a Pennsylvania Dietitian.


Fruitcycle.  Accessed June 11, 2021. 

Hungry Harvest.  Accessed June 11, 2021.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  (2021).  Food Loss and Waste. Accessed June 11, 2021. 




Posted by: Julie Stefanski

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