From Make a Difference

Help Reduce Food Waste by Eating Ugly Fruit and Vegetables

ugly fruit and veggies

Have you ever stopped to consider how all the apples, carrots, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables that you buy look alike? Why don’t these items occasionally come in different sizes or unusual shapes?

imperfect produce kissing

Well, the truth is that produce often grows in atypical ways. However, those special fruits and vegetables never make it to your local supermarket. That’s because they’re being thrown them away. Yes, at least 20 percent of American produce goes to waste every year for cosmetic reasons.

funny shaped vegetables eggplant

You see, major grocery chains have established rules for produce appearance; the colors, sizes, and shapes are strictly regulated. Thus, farm employees will discard any fruit or vegetable that doesn’t meet those requirements.

totally adorable butterfly strawberry

Squandering so much good food is a serious moral and environmental problem. In addition, ugly fruit and vegetables can be sold at lower prices, which means that families who buy groceries on a budget could purchase more of them. Not to mention, hardworking farmers would make considerably more money if they could reduce food waste.

imperfect produce

Imperfect Produce is here to help. This organization lets farms sell their odd-looking fruits and vegetables. It delivers such produce, much of which is grown in California, to homes, workplaces, and other locations throughout the Bay Area.

imperfect lemon more to love

The agricultural experts at Imperfect Produce ensure that all of these fruits and vegetables are completely safe to eat, fresh, full of nutrients, and of the highest quality. You can even order this kind of food in bulk.

imperfect carrots so in love

Ben Simon, Ben Chesler, and Ron Clark, the founders of Imperfect Produce, were each involved for years in anti-hunger efforts. Through that work, they learned about ugly produce. They decided to start a business that could raise awareness of these wasted foods while also making these fruits and vegetables available to consumers.

imperfect lemon is artwork

After a while, however, many people might stop thinking of these items as ugly fruit and vegetables. Indeed, many of them are striking to behold, and some of them are adorable. They can make great conversation pieces, and parents and children can have fun figuring out what each one looks like: a heart, a fish, and so on.

ugly fruit persimmon

Even better, in some cases, vegetables and fruits that are smaller than average are more flavorful. Plus, you can feel good knowing that you’re doing your part to reduce food waste. For all of these reasons, let’s hear it for imperfect fruits and vegetables, which happen to be perfect for just about any meal or snack.

Other initiatives saving these delightful darlings:
Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables – France
Imperfect Picks – Australia

Do you know of more companies, farms, or organizations working to stop food waste by saving ugly fruits and vegetables?  Comment below to tell us about them!

Can Planting a Butterfly Garden in Your Own Backyard Save the Monarch Butterfly?

If you’ve ever seen a monarch butterfly fluttering by or emerging from a chrysalis, you’ve experienced something special. There is a poetic beauty to these winged wonders, but they are in danger of disappearing. The monarch population has drastically declined due to habitat destruction, disease and pesticide use. Fortunately, there are ways to reverse the trend and give these creatures a solid future.

Monarch Butterflies ar dissappearing

The Monarch’s Predicament

These small but tough insects travel more than 2,000 miles during their epic migrations between Canada and Mexico. In the autumn, millions of monarch butterflies head south, and they return north in the springtime to reproduce. The females die after laying their eggs, and the new generation repeats the cycle and embarks on the same remarkable journey searching for the ultimate monarch butterfly habitat.

As a survival strategy, monarch caterpillars feed solely on milkweed, which contains chemicals that make the butterflies toxic to predators. Females won’t lay their eggs on anything but milkweed as well. This is one of the most problematic monarch butterfly facts, because the plant is quickly disappearing from the landscape. Land development, the overuse of poisonous pesticides and the purposeful destruction of the plants make it difficult for monarchs to complete their life cycles.

save the monarch butterfly

 

A Brighter Future for Monarch Butterflies

You can help save the monarch butterfly by planting milkweed in your own backyard. It’s best to choose locally grown seeds for your live butterfly garden. Varieties to look for in the Northeast include common, swamp, whorled and poke milkweed. In the Southwest, plant some white, sandhill, aquatic or whorled milkweed. The antelopehorns and zizotes species are native to the South Central region, and the showy and Mexican whorled species are indigenous in the West.

By adding milkweed and other butterfly garden plants to your yard, you’ll be creating a welcoming haven. Bring in some nectar-rich plant life, including zinnias, asters and black-eyed Susans. Complete the habitat by creating small puddles of water in the soil for the butterflies to drink from. Once you understand how to make a butterfly garden that is inviting, you’ll be amazed at how many fluttering guests come to visit.

 

your monarch saving plant species by location

RESOURCE: Directory of milkweed seed vendors to get the right seeds for your garden.

 

The Monarch Conservation Program

There are numerous initiatives across the country that focus on protecting the monarch population. One of the most prevalent programs was initiated by Dan Ashe, the director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Collaborating with the National Wildlife Federation, Ashe promotes the recovery of monarch habitats. Through his Save the Monarch Project, he encourages people to build butterfly gardens rich with the milkweed these creatures desperately need.

The milkweed plant is slowly being eradicated, and the monarchs are fading away with it. The good news is that neither has to disappear completely. By designing your own monarch butterfly garden, you can preserve the breeding ground, shelter and sole source of food for these black and orange beauties. With very little effort, you’ll be contributing to the long-term survival of the gorgeous monarch.

 

Photo Credits:

– davidd [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

– Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Monarch Butterfly Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

– Dan Ashe, director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  www.fws.gov/savethemonarch