In 2013, over 17 million American households were confronted with hunger and lack of nutritionally affordable food. The high cost of fruit and vegetables has put lower income Americans out of the market for these foods. Much of it is simply discarded by grocery stores for cosmetic reasons. Should grocery stores be allowed to continue this practice?

From Our Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent

Current prohibitively high costs of produce have canceled out access to its consumption by millions of low to moderate income Americans. Many simply cannot afford to purchase fruit or vegetables and have to rely on less nutritious and lower cost produce type products through canned goods and other sources.  

With large grocery store cosmetic standards standing in the way, a high percentage of produce is discarded before it reaches grocery store produce sections, which is not only a waste of good food, but a disservice to those who purchase a major portion of their groceries at stores that participate in this practice.  This system also deprives individuals of the opportunity to maintain a higher standard of health, which is affected by lack of the nutrients that produce provides.

Grocery stores should not be allowed to throw out fruit or vegetables simply for cosmetic reasons. If fruit or vegetables have not spoiled or suffered severe damage, they should still be considered edible and sold at significantly reduced costs or offered free to customers beyond a certain point of shelf life.  Grocers deem produce that is not of the right grade in relation to size, shape, or color as “ugly” and refuse to sell it as well as promptly dispose of it.  Produce experts explain that misshapen or smaller fruit and vegetable items are just as nutritious as the fancier versions, and oftentimes tastier.

In order to combat produce waste, stores like Walmart and Whole Foods have been challenged to start selling not quite perfect produce. Stores in Canada, Australia and Europe have mounted campaigns to sell less than perfect produce and have greatly benefited. One American store, Raley’s, has initiated a pilot program for selling “ugly” produce.

With significant grocer participation and commitment to the elimination of food and produce waste, particularly by large retailers, the benefits to both the grocers and Americans is limitless. Social, health and environmental needs can be met, and those Americans with limited resources and food deficiencies will be able to purchase healthful foods at discounted rates.  Stores need to realize they are acting irresponsibly with the waste of perfectly good, healthy and edible food.

Steps do need to be taken to reduce food waste and with consumer pressure on grocery and specialty food stores, hunger can be combated.  At the same time, food shoppers can save money, fight hunger and promote environmental balance with less waste.  The final result of produce waste will be eliminated or reduced as “ugly” fruit will wind up on dining tables everywhere rather than dumps, landfills and elsewhere.

 Grocery stores  need to eliminate the practice of throwing away perfectly good food and the only way to halt the ingrained practice of “ugly” fruit throwaways is to continually campaign, petition and demand the elimination of food waste.   Food is a terrible thing to waste, especially fresh food. Impoverished and hungry Americans deserve a chance to eat what food giants want to thrust aside.


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