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Ugly Produce Subscribers Need to See This Twitter Thread About the Reality of Food System Reform

As nice as it would be to fix our agriculture system by having a box of blob-shaped apples sent to your house every month, apparently things aren't as easy as that. Dr. Dara Taber elaborates on the concept of food waste in America.

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  • 1
    twitter post As someone who works in ag & food distribution I gotta disagree w this. A lot of "ugly" food -Won't survive distribution bc weird shapes makes it prone to getting smushed, bruised, start to rot, & make everything else in the box/crate rot Broken skin does the same thing. Colonel Unicorn @DrUnicornPhD Replying to @DrUnicorn Ph D @Sarah Taber_bww Second point, dangit. Related: theguardian.com/environment/20..
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  • 2
    twitter post Most "ugly" produce gets turned into soups, sauces, salsa, jam, ice cream, etc. You think that stuff gets made from the pretty fruit & veggies?! jeebus, think about it for a minute
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  • 3
    twitter post The amt of produce wasted bc of labor problems (can't get a crew to harvest) & bad weather (melons that rot in the field bc it's too hot & wet, etc) WAY outstrips produce thrown out bc it's "ugly." Bc again... we eat a LOT ugly produce. You just wouldn't know it bc it's salsa
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  • 4
    twitter post As someone who works in produce, this whole "ugly fruit" movement is actually kind of enraging bc it's completely disconnected from what really happens in the supply chain. It's a big honkin wad of bullshit that self-promoting foodies get away with bc nobody knows better
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  • 5
    twitter post After it leaves the farm, most produce goes to a packinghouse. This is where they cool, wash, sort, & package it. In other words, it's where the ugly fruit people think all this "waste" is happening
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  • 6
    twitter post the only time packinghouses throw out fruit is when IT'S ACTUALLY INEDIBLE Like it's either rotten or (in the case of 1 watermelon field that one time) it had rained so hard that the melons filled up w water and were completely tasteless. Also about to explode
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  • 7
    twitter post Produce gets graded by size, prettiness, and (sometimes) flavor/eating quality. Know what happens to most of the produce that's edible, has enough shape to survive in transit, but looks funny? IT GOES TO THE GROCERY STORES THAT POOR PEOPLE SHOP AT
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  • 8
    twitter post In the broke times of my life I did not shop at farmers' markets, bc they're at bizarre times when working class people are usually working or sleeping (late service sector nights > no 7am Saturday farmer's market for you). FM's are built around the 9-5 white collar schedule.
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  • 9
    twitter post Most of your real poor ppl, when buying produce, get it from shops white collar ppl don't go to. Those shops stock ugly produce. That white collar ppl don't go to. Then conclude, looking at their nice stores stocked w pretty #1 produce, that nobody's eating the ugly stuff.
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  • 10
    twitter post So there's one beef. The "eat ugly fruit!" movement is classist as FUCK. You've got to have a debilitating level of ignorance to assume that if Whole Paycheck Market doesn't stock ugly fruit, it must be getting "wasted."
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  • 11
    twitter post Back to the packinghouse. When produce is EXTREMELY UGLY, it goes into cull bins My fave cull bins to date: -Sweet potatoes. Did you know that they make a "lot* of giant, freaky-shaped spuds? Like a rat king of sweet potatoes, somewhere btwn football & basketball sized
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  • 12
    twitter post What happens to these ugly, unloved sweet potatoes? OH WAIT THEY GET LOVED, THAT's WHERE MOTHERFUCKIN SWEET POTATO FRIES COME FROM
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  • 13
    twitter post -Apples. We love to "say* we don't mind "spots on our apples," but actual sales data tells us really, really do. And honestly, we should. Even "cosmetic" lesions can make micro- breaks in the apple's skin, allowing fungus to enter. One rotten apple, barrel, etc.
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  • 14
    twitter post Fugly apples ARE WHERE APPLE JUICE AND APPLE SAUCE AND APPLE CIDER AND APPLE BUTTER AND APPLE JELLY AND APPLE PIE COME FROM "wasted" my ass
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  • 15
    twitter post "but some apple variety are better for fresh eating, not processing" d'ya think Hy-Vee brand apple juice from concentrate really gives a single crispy fuck that today's shipment of cheap juicing-grade apples are not The Optimal For Juicing? NO THEY'RE GONNA JUICE THAT SHIT
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  • 16
    twitter post Did you know: Honeycrisp apples are extra prone to a mostly-cosmetic skin defect called bitter pit? Ergo, most Honeycrisp apples become apple juice. That's why whole, fresh, pretty Honeycrisp apples cost so fricken much. Because most of them become cheap bulk juicers.
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  • 17
    twitter post Yes, every once in a while you'll run into a variety of produce that only really works for fresh & doesn't lend well to processing. This mostly happens w leafy greens (we don't make... lettuce sauce), which is such a minuscule amt of the produce tonnage grown per year.
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  • 18
    twitter post When produce is too far gone to sell & there's no processing market (say, melons), it often gets fed to livestock. That's... actually a lot of the point of livestock, historically. They eat stuff we can't & turn it into meat, milk, & eggs that we can
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  • 19
    twitter post Feeding crop & food waste to livestock also means we're not having to use as much livestock-only cropland. Just assume that most years a certain %age of human food crops will get messed up & become livestock feed, and that's less pasture/grain land needed for livestock.
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  • 20
    twitter post That Listeria outbreak in cantaloupe back in 2011? As best we can tell it happened bc they fed ugly melons to cattle. Which, in itself, is fine. The problem is they kept driving the truck back into the cantaloupe shed AFTER getting its tires caked in cow shit during deliveries.
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  • 21
    twitter post This whole "ugly fruit! uwu" thing is bewildering bc in order to believe that retail consumers can change the world by buying ugly fruit, you have to believe that the entire supply chain is made of numpties who make a regular habit of leaving money on the table
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  • 22
    twitter post The food system is a hot mess but using ugly produce is one thing it's actually really good at. Using every single part of what's grown, if there's any possible way to sell it
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  • 23
    twitter post The one big source of food waste that I *do worry about is crops that are perfectly good, and rot in the field bc the farm can't get anybody to harvest them. (Orrrrr they don't want to pay enough for people to come harvest them.)
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  • 24
    twitter post These labor shortages come down to 2 things: 1) Bad immigration policy 2) Farm biz models that can't survive a competitive labor market (which kinda tends to feed back into that first one) We SHOULD be worried about THAT And "buy ugly fruit!" does fuck-all to address it
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  • 25
    twitter post But those aren't fun problems to fix, because they're not the kinds of problems that the everyman consumer can fix by just making a simple yes/no choice in the supermarket. They're like. systemic or some shit
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  • 26
    twitter post anyway that's my semiweekly grinching about shallow attempts to reform the food system that completely miss the point and at this point the ugly fruit thing is such an accepted belief that. like. you can't even blame people for believing it, it's fuckin everywhere
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