The hard life of cosmetically challenged produce

Cosmetically challenged carrot

Being a veggie or fruit can be very tough. You might be a tasty, juicy tomato, perfect for an authentic Italian pasta recipe with fresh ingredients but still, you don’t manage to reach the shelves of a supermarket. Or, you might be a sweet strawberry, looking forward to landing on an amazing homemade soft creamy pie but instead, you end up in a landfill. Why? Because you are considered to be ugly, because your life is affected by high aesthetic standards.

Every year, in North America, six billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go to waste on farms simply due to their physical appearance. In the US, the aesthetic criteria are established by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the supermarkets themselves. According to USDA, in order for a carrot to make it to the shelves of a traditional retail outlet, it shouldn’t have a diameter less than two centimeters. A potato should be “fairly well shaped” and a tomato should be “fairly well formed and smooth”. But what does “fairly well shaped” exactly mean? These descriptions are vague and create an opportunity for different further interpretations. What is also interesting to point out is that although the USDA guidelines are voluntary, it is still the groceries that prefer keeping high expectations of how their fruit and veggies should look.

The life for misshapen vegetables and fruit is not easier in Europe where it is the European norms that set the standards. Some steps forward have been taken in 2008 when the European Commission has killed off the regulations on the shape and size of 26 types of fruit and vegetables. Among these: asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, plums, etc. For those, the European retailers are free to choose regardless of their appearance. Nevertheless, for ten types of fruit and vegetables, among which there are apples, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwis and peaches, the shape standards still apply.

Producing food that no one will eat means squandering a lot of resources, from water to seeds but also fuel and fertilizers. According to National GeographicNational Geographic, at a global level, every year the production of uneaten food consumes as much water as the entire annual flow of the longest European river, the Volga.

Luckily, lately some interesting initiatives have arisen to give a chance to the “ugly” fruit and veggies to make it to the supermarket shelters. An example is the American grocery chain Giant Eagle, which few weeks ago as launched the program “Produce With a Personality” to sell misshapen but equally tasty potatoes, oranges, and apples at a lower price. This initiative will be a great chance for customers to indicate that they are willing to buy oddly shaped fruit and veggies.

Remember, cosmetically challenged produce is just as delicious and nutritious as the perfect shaped produce! Let’s fight food waste together!

Alice Moretti

Advertisements

Tip Tuesday: Chocolate Bloom

 

I believe most of us cannot resist chocolate. Eating chocolate not only boosts our mood, but it’s also a good source of certain antioxidants.

Have you ever experienced this before, that you buy a bar of chocolate, you put it deep inside the refrigerator (or anywhere out of sight), and then you forget about it for a while? Then, one day it appears right in front of you and you decide both to check the expiration date and to try a bite. Often this chocolate doesn’t have an appealing texture and it presents white spots all over its surface. What are these spots?

Well, they are known as ‘blooms’, as the result of blooming. This phenomenon is completely normal and the chocolate is still safe for consumption. Blooms arise due to the fat and sugar contained in chocolate. Fat bloom feels slick and melts to the touch, whereas sugar bloom feels dry and remains when touched. The reason behind fat bloom is that the fat molecules (originating from the cocoa butter used in the processing of chocolate) have separated from the chocolate and solidified on the surface. Long storage and warm temperature are the factors of fat blooming. On the other hand, sugar bloom occurs when the chocolate is stored in a damp area. Owing to the difference in moisture content, sugar molecules migrate from the inner part of the chocolate to the surface. Sugar crystals appear on the surface after the moisture has evaporated.

Since chocolate is high in sugar, it has a relatively low microbial risk. For this reason, even if the chocolate has bloomed, we still can eat it as it is, or melt it to make toppings or desserts. Just a friendly reminder: moderating the consumption (and purchase) of chocolate is strongly recommended!

The information provided here is served as a general guideline.

Nutritionist of The Froodly Team

Wan Lih Ching

Food Waste and the EU’s Plans for a Circular Economy

Out of the 1.3 billion tons of food that gets lost or wasted every year at the global level, around 100 million comes from the European Union.

The European Commission is committed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN on September 2015.  Among them, there is the will to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030.

As for the rest of the world, reducing food waste in Europe would not only mean lowering the environmental impact, but also saving money.

Tackling food waste is a core element of the EU Commission’s objective to develop a Circular Economy. This concept, opposite to the one of Open-Ended Economy, often criticized for lacking any tendency to recycle, underlines the need to promote long-lasting goods, waste prevention, and renewable energy resources. According to a Circular Economy perspective, our economic systems should work like organisms, processing nutrients that can be fed back into the cycle.

The strategy that the EU Commission will adopt to promote this ambitious plan is described in details in the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy. Particularly, in relation to food waste the Commission will:

  • Develop a common European methodology to measure and monitor food waste;
  • Establish a platform for member states and stakeholders, allowing them to share best practices and evaluate the progress made over time;
  • Take measures to clarify EU legislation related to food donation to food banks, and the usage of unsold food as a resource in animal feed;

To strengthen this action, the EU is also reviewing its laws. To fulfill the aforementioned Action Plan, the European Parliament and the Council have proposed a revised directive on waste, which, among other goals, promotes increasing incentives to producers who put greener products on the market and follow recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging).

In addition to this, due to the key role that the civil society can play in reducing food waste, the EU Commission has made available in different languages some useful communication materials. For example, the guide “10 Tips: What can I do in my daily life to limit food waste?” provides European citizens helpful tips to reduce food waste, save money and protect the environment.

Through all these actions, both at the policy and law level, the EU is showing to be very committed to reducing food waste across the Old Continent.

We at Froodly we have taken up this important challenge as well. Through our innovative mobile application, allowing users to see the discounted products that are getting close to their expiry date around them, we are contributing to fighting food waste in Finland. Head to our website to find out more about Froodly’s Food Rescue App!

Alice Moretti

The UN Aims to Reduce Food Waste to Achieve Sustainable Development

According to FAO, approximately one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. In industrialized countries, where consumers’ behaviour plays a crucial role, the food losses and wastes amounts to almost US$ 680 billion. That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Food waste has a very negative impact on food security, use of natural resources and the environment. For this reason, important actors such as the UN but also the civil society are contributing to tackle this issue. Among the challenging objectives adopted on the occasion of the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, there is the will to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains. This ambitious goal is a key element of the UN’s broaden mission to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (Goal 12 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development).

Since the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, sustainable production and consumption (SPC), together with poverty eradication and the management of natural resources, has been considered fundamental to achieve sustainable development.

But what is exactly SPC?

According to the United Nations Environment Programme Handbook for Policymakers, SPC is about fulfilling the needs of all while using fewer resources, including energy and water, and producing less waste and pollution. SPC involves both policies to improve production and to help consumers being aware about the sustainable consumption choices they can make.

Due to the complexity and variety of topics involved in SPC it is easy to understand why numerous stakeholders should be involved in order for it to be effective: government, private sectors, educators and consumers. Particularly, when it comes to tackling the food waste challenge, the role that each individual can play is of extreme importance.

By adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the UN has made a step forward in reducing food waste and supporting sustainable development. What about you? Would you like to join this important cause? Download Froodly’s food waste app if you wish to help reduce food waste in Finland!

Alice Moretti