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Swedish stores shun "ugly" produce: report

TT/Clara Guibourg · 7 Jul 2011, 09:57

Published: 07 Jul 2011 09:57 GMT+02:00

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"A lot of carrots get thrown away because of their looks, and that just feels completely wrong considering today's debate about the environment," carrot farmer Tanya Hultman, outside Piteå in northern Sweden, told The Local on Thursday.

Carrots that don't make the cut are among the unappealing foodstuff most often rejected, according to Sveriges Radio (SR). Too small, too crooked, too big - none of these vegetables will see grocery stores.

Hultman is disappointed by this blatant discrimination, pointing out that there's nothing wrong with the carrots apart from looking insufficiently appealing.

According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture, as much as a fourth of all the carrots farmed are rejected by stores.

"I feel that we could have taken a more active stand on the matter, maybe it isn't worth the amount of waste just for straight carrots," said Christel Gustafsson, head of the Board's climate division, to Sveriges Radio.

Calculations have shown that roughly one third of all food produced is never eaten, despite the fact that much of what is thrown away is perfectly edible.

"Discarding food that could have been used is a serious environmental problem," said Gustafsson.

Tanya Hultman hopes that change is on the horizon now that this report has been published and the problem of food waste publicised.

"If we're going to make any kind of effort with the environment, we have to start making use of the raw materials we already have," she said.

Story continues below…

But until this happens, she has found an alternative solution to make the most of available resources: carrots rejected by stores are sold on to a dairy farmer in a neighbouring village, who uses the unattractive vegetables to feed his calves.

"It works alright, but it's not a secure future. I'd rather see this produce reach stores," she told The Local.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:03 July 7, 2011 by Scott McCoy
But yet they buy all the rotten produce these stores have,go figure.
11:04 July 7, 2011 by jacquelinee
I hear ya Scott.
11:33 July 7, 2011 by krrodman
Who can blame Swedes for not eating ugly vegetables.

After all,

"You are what you eat."
11:41 July 7, 2011 by thinkright24
what a shame. people die of hunger in this world and they throw food because it looks ugly, or to keep the prices high.

i am sure the ugly carrots are not uglier than the rotten fish they love.
12:15 July 7, 2011 by engagebrain
why not sell 'ugly' fruit and veg at a lower price instead of throwing it away.
12:17 July 7, 2011 by Yea!!
Yea... Sweden now have to make some beauty fertilizers ...
12:26 July 7, 2011 by Alohart
Similar problem in the U.S. Food Banks struggling to find enough food to feed the growing numbers of poor and homeless are trying to figure out how to distribute "ugly" produce that is frequently discarded, including food from restaurants that has been prepared but not served.
12:43 July 7, 2011 by Central European
The answer is " not in my basket"or " not on my plate" :(

I´d say that 90 pct of the people which have signed a petition angaist the throwing away of ugly vegetables will take only the nice pieces from the counter........

So it is all about us, satiated europeans...
12:57 July 7, 2011 by Dr. Dillner
Ugly vegies make great stews (yum!)
13:12 July 7, 2011 by Twiceshy
Maybe someone should start a supermarket chain which sells these "ugly" vegetables for cheaper prices.
13:18 July 7, 2011 by Grindsprint
But how am i supposed to know if it just looks ugly or if it´s bad? of course I will choose the better looking ones in the store, and if the store owner learns that this is the behaviour of the customer, he has to stop buying ugly food. I say stop growing ugly food!
14:24 July 7, 2011 by Kaethar
@Twiceshy: This. It's no surprise that the bigger stores care about aesthetics (because they know their customers do as well).
14:54 July 7, 2011 by jack sprat
Haing seen the diabolical quality of fruit and veg that does make the grade to go on sale in Swedish shops, I have to think that the rejected stuff must have long ago rotted away into compost even before delivery.
15:30 July 7, 2011 by Swedesmith
Ugly apples make great cider.
15:58 July 7, 2011 by karex
@thinkright24: my thoughts exactly.

@twiceshy: great Idea! I would love to save money on food as long as the quality is not affected. Who cares what it looks like?
22:41 July 7, 2011 by glamshek
Ugly fruits...God does not like it and I have to share one quote

'Those who spend more, will one day suffer from dearth'

Don't ask me who is it but its from a very well known Muslim figure.
00:30 July 8, 2011 by Swedesmith
Kareem Abdul Jabbar?
13:59 July 8, 2011 by Scott McCoy
Hahahahaha,,good one S Smith....

Go Lakers.
15:50 July 8, 2011 by graphixperson
Wasting ugly veggies is just one of those little sacrifices Sweden must make on it's path to becoming a "utopia."
15:58 July 8, 2011 by yractualpatience
This story must be a joke. My husband and I tell everyone that Swedish stores only sell the manky vegetables that the rest of Europe will not eat - we have never come across such poor quality vegetables anywhere else in Europe and our local store even trims and rewrapps mouldy vegetables.
18:16 July 8, 2011 by cogito
I've seen that, too, the mouldy vegetables trimmed and rewrapped. Or sometimes not trimmed or wrapped at all. I've never seen vegetables and fruit like anywhere as rotten as what is sold here.

And here's the kicker: the price is, at least, twice as high as anywhere else in Europe. They get away with it because they know Swedes won't complain.
16:03 July 9, 2011 by krattan
There is a bit of distance between Sweden and the rest of Europe where most of vegetables sold is grown so it depends on what you are comparing. There is 800 km from Stockholm to Berlin. 1400 km to London. Of course this reflects on both the price and the quality of fresh vegetables.
01:06 July 10, 2011 by soultraveler3
Lol, they won't sell ugly fruit but they're more than happy to sell rotting and rotten fruit and veg.

Sweden has the worst produce I've ever seen.

Cogito is right. Store get away with selling the crap because it's against Swedish nature to complain, even when they should.
15:08 July 10, 2011 by JulieLou40
Sweden HAS got the crappiest "fresh" produce I have ever seen in my life...how I wish Sainsburys would set up home here. I for one would actually take a plane ride to wherever in Sweden they were and stock up with decent stuff for once.

One time in ICA Maxi I picked up a yellow pepper by the stalk and the rest of it just fell away, rotten as hell. The juice dripped right up my arm, it was absolutely manky.
20:02 July 10, 2011 by Potrero
Would be interesting to see that broken down by grocery chains vs. independent frukt & grön shops. I don't know about ugliness, but the quality, selection and price at the greengrocers was always much better. I could even get real stalks of parsley there instead of the anemic houseplant style stuff ICA or Hemköp would sell.

Also, really large carrots are going to be woody, and crooked ones are harder to peel. So there can be a functional difference. Ugly heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand are awesome.
15:55 July 13, 2011 by D. ane
The more perfect the more likely that it is GM. Natural food is not perfect - you would know if you grow your own.

I always avoid the plastic looking perfect fruit. And I am very suspicious of these perfect tomatoes that the shops are full of at the moment. Tomatoes do not all ripen at the same time in one bunch. They have been genetically modified to be like that.
22:50 July 19, 2011 by Da Goat
the farmer is nor so bright either they should sell the mishapen carrots to the carrot juice factory and then the residue should then go to the calves to eat!

I have always been grumpy about wasting food like this, shame they then put the old crap on the shelves perhaps they should put the "ugly" produce out instead to see what the shoppers like the bad or the ugly! I always go for the misshapen over the old!
12:40 July 23, 2011 by gabeltoon
Sad to read all these comments about ugly fruit and veg. Try turning any spare piece of ground into a veg patch and grow your own. It tastes better and the ugly stuff can make your meal more interesting.
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