> 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
There a number of things you and your students can do with wonky foods, fresh foods and healthy eating:
Fruit and vegetable carving
We initially thought that fruit and vegetable carving might just be a bit of a Halloween giggle, but in fact it’s quite a serious business. Search for ‘fruit and vegetable carving’ on Google Images and be amazed! How about asking students to design and create an Enviroweek scene using carved fruits and vegetables (the adventurous could even make a stop motion animation!)
Similarly, it’s also worth searching the term ‘food art’ in Google Images. Can students create their own food art scene or animation? (E.g. Soupe Opera.)
It doesn’t need to be all about art though. Virginia Woolf wrote: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” (A Room of One’s Own). Scientific studies have since shown that fresh and healthy foods increase mental and physical health – ask students to plan and prepare for a picnic date full of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables.
Competitive carrot competition
Using a small garden bed or box at your school, ask students to sow carrot seeds to see who can grow the most unusual looking carrot. Adding rocks in the soil under your seeds will force the carrots to grow in strange ways. Don’t forget to label your seeds!
Grow a giant pumpkin!
The largest recorded pumpkin was grown by Beni Meier of Switzerland in 2014. It weighed a whopping 1054kg! Do you think you can beat that?! By the way, there are giant pumpkin competitions in Australia ‒ perhaps yours will win! Note: your pumpkin will need care and regular watering over the summer holidays. Learn more at Leaf Root Fruit.
Quick Tip: Ask students to find examples of wonky fruit and vegetables on the Internet.
Whole school tip
Hold a competition between classes to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin or the weirdest looking vegetable!
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
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.