Imperfect fruit

There is no greater sign of consumers’ unrealistic desire for perfection than a piece of fruit on a supermarket shelf.
If an apple happens to be too big, too small, oddly shaped or blemished we reject it in favor of its perfectly shiny, medium-sized, unblemished neighbor.
Yet how often have you selected a perfectly red and round tomato, only to discover it’s nothing like a tomato in the way that matters most – taste.
They look magnificent but at first bite you realise beauty really is only skin deep.
The apple and pear industry’s new Hailstorm Heroes campaign provides an easy way for consumers to help growers at risk of losing millions of dollars in income after last October’s freak hail storm.
Hail-marked fruit sold through the campaign will taste just as good, despite the odd lump, bump or scrape.
It also means that growers will receive a far better return for their slightly damaged fruit than the alternatives – dumping it or juicing it in a market already flooded with juicing fruit.
But the Hailstorm Heroes campaign also shines a light on a much bigger issue facing our food producers.
Our obsession with perfection is driving staggering amounts of food waste.
Worldwide about one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste.
In Australia, that figure is even higher.
In the banana industry alone, an estimated 40% of all fruit grown is dumped before it’s even had a chance to make it to market – and all because it’s imperfect.
Food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy $20 billion a year.
Between households, eateries and industry, we throw out at least 5.3 million tonnes of edible food each year.
Yet at least 650,000 Australians, one quarter of which are children, are believed to be reliant on food relief from aid services each month.
Buying a bag of hail marked apples or pears is an easy way to support our region’s growers in their time of need.
It may also be a catalyst for shoppers to rethink their grocery buying habits.
Supermarkets are driven by consumer demand and to curb our food waste, demanding choice at the checkout that includes “imperfect” fruit and veg is a good place to start.