How to guide

Early Childhood

> Wonky Veg
We waste many of our fruits and vegetables because they don’t look perfect


How lucky we are to have easy access to so many fresh fruits and vegetables, especially fruits and vegetables of such high quality! But if you’ve ever grown your own fruits or vegetables you will know that not every carrot is a supermodel, nor is every zucchini petite, nor does every apple have shiny skin. When you grow these foods yourself you see all the natural marks, lumps, blemishes and (occasionally startling!) growths that many fruits and vegetables come with.

Why don’t we see these wonky fruits and vegetables in our supermarkets? Because they (the supermarkets) think they won’t sell. Instead farmers are expected to throw this food away. All this healthy, delicious fresh food is thrown in the bin because it has a few spots or a bit of an awkward bend.

We say enough is enough! It’s time to welcome these wonky foods back into our lives, to love them despite (or even for) their quirks: we know they’re fresh, delicious and healthy, and we don’t want to see them go to waste because of the way they look.

How To Do It

Find some pictures of ‘wonky’ fruits or vegetables on the Internet and share with your students. Explain that it can be a bit like reading clouds: what do these fruits and vegetables look like? What do they remind you of? Could you add some eyes to make a face or some wheels to make a car?

For Centres where children are provided with food:

Find examples of wonky fruits and vegetables and present these to children alongside ‘supermarket perfect’ examples. Cut both up and give them to children to eat. Do they taste any different?

Quick tip: Where possible, allow children to try vegetables before they are cooked. Herbs and vegetables such as zucchini, sweet corn, capsicum, spinach, peas and beans will only need a wash before they can be sampled. Older children can be involved in all the stages of food preparation from harvesting, to washing, to peeling and slicing, to presentation and eating.

For Centres where children bring packed lunches:

Explain to parents that children will be comparing wonky fruits and vegetables with supermarket perfect fruits and vegetables. Ask each child to be sent to school with a piece of fruit or a vegetable. Work with children to find wonky examples of these fruits or vegetables online. Once complete, eat your fruit or vegetables!

Quick tip: Ask parents or caregivers to bring any examples of wonky fruits and vegetables they might find.

Whole centre tip

Create a wonky fruits and vegetables awareness poster with children, decorating photos from the Internet with features to make them look like faces, animals or other objects.

What’s Our Impact?

A mature tree absorbs an average of 267kg over its lifetime (30 years). Each year a tree absorbs 8.9kgs of CO2-3 (267kg divided by 30). These savings are based on planting and looking after one tree. All plants benefit the environment. Plant more, save more!

  • CO2e (weekly) 0.17
  • CO2e (annual) 8.9
  • Black balloons (weekly) 3.4
  • Black balloons (annual) 178

Further opportunities for learning include an introduction to the seasons, plant lifecycles, natural packaging, needs/care/parts of a plant, and textures, shapes, smells and colours of plants.


Fast Facts

An estimated 20-40% of fruits and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops, mostly because they don’t match the consumers’ and supermarkets’ high cosmetic standards. Learn more at Food Wise. 

In France, supermarket giant Intermarche introduced a successful campaign called Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables. The supermarket purchased produce usually discarded for purely cosmetic reasons, displayed it in special aisles, and sold them at a 30% discount. The program was an immediate success; within a month, it reached over 13 million people and stirred a national conversation about food waste and just what makes a piece of fruit or a vegetable acceptable to the consumer. Learn more at the ABC.

Many types of excess fruit and vegetables can at least be fed to livestock, but because of their seeds avocados cannot be fed to animals and can only be dumped. Learn more at the ABC. 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports one third of the food produced for human consumption, or 1.3 billion tonnes a year, is wasted.  Learn more at the ABC.