You may initially eat with your eyes, but once it’s in your stomach, it’s really all the same. And now the U.K.’s leading online grocery shopping service, Tesco, is really driving that point home. In a new effort to reduce food waste, the digital service is launching “Wonky Vegetables,” a new initiative assuring that vegetables are delicious regardless of their physical appearance. In short, Wonky Vegetables wants to sell you ugly parsnips and potatoes (with more products to be added). Because why waste food in the name of aesthetics?
As the Wonky Vegetables website points out, 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste every year, and “up to 40 percent of a crop of vegetables can be disregarded because it does not meet the aesthetic requirements of supermarkets.” Much of this is due to EU laws that strictly regulated the appearance of produce all the way up until 2009. And while legal mandates are no longer in place, a number of supermarkets and grocery stores still shy away from selling ugly fruits and vegetables to their customers.
But Wonky Vegetables wants to change this. “Our end goal,” the site reads, “is not just to sell a lot of Wonky veg but to normalize the purchase and consumption of Wonky vegetables. We feel we should aim for a system in which vegetables are graded only by whether they are fit for human consumption or not.”
So what’s the plan? Wonky will start offering a vegetable that promises “a consistent amount of seasonal vegetables delivered to your door every week.” Moreover, the service plans on buying 15 to 20 percent more than they’ll need to fulfill demand with the intention of delivering any and all surplus to charity. This, the company notes, will both reduce waste and help feed the hungry.
“This [initiative] is not to get people to like us again,” said Tesco executive Dave Lewis. “This is about being a responsible business. Customers today want to know businesses where they choose to shop at are responsible. We have an opportunity, given our size and scale, to make massive a contributions to the communities in which we operate in, and why wouldn’t we do that?”