Why we throw away tons of ‘unaesthetic’ products

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Did you know that making a frittata can help the planet? One NSW MP thinks so.

Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich recently chaired a study on food production, supply and waste in NSW.

Speak against The new newspaperMr Greenwich revealed the best “hack” he had from the research to ensure he was using every vegetable in his fridge by the end of the week.

He mixes them all up and makes a frittata out of them.

“Just through that simple action, people will have a meaningful impact in reducing waste and thus reducing emissions,” he said.

While the state government is expected to respond to the investigation in May, there were some important conclusions from the report.

Food waste is not only bad for the environment, it is also a shocking waste 312 kg of food per person per year is thrown away – while people go hungry.

A third of food waste in NSW comes from home and occurs in every part of the supply chain. That is why the report contains several sweeping recommendations to combat it.

Aesthetic standards cause waste

One of the recommendations was to limit the possibilities of large retailers impose aesthetic standards on products.

NSW Farmers told the inquiry that flexibility with product specifications regarding “aesthetics as opposed to food safety” could reduce food waste throughout the supply chain.

NSW Farmers explained that retailers and processors have specifications for fresh produce, which play a role in ensuring food is fit for consumption,” the report said.

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“However, they noted that imposing mostly cosmetic specifications, such as product weight, shape, size and imperfections, contributes substantially to food waste in the supply chain.”

It also noted that aesthetic standards led to a “significant” amount of edibles being “ploughed back into the paddock”.

“This wastes farmers’ resources and reduces their income,” the report states.

“We recommend that supermarkets’ ability to require aesthetic standards for products be limited so that fewer products are wasted.”

Farmers say retailers are rejecting products purely for aesthetic reasons. Photo: Getty

Farmers Pick was born after co-founders Josh Ball and Josh Brooks-Duncan noticed that the produce at their local farmer’s market was different from that on the shelves of a supermarket.

The company salvages non-aesthetic products and supplies them to customers.

“A lot of times when it comes to the produce we get from farms, it looks exactly like what you see in the supermarket, but it still gets rejected because of unrealistic standards,” the co-founders said. The new newspaper.

They said they had witnessed oversized products, but that is usually due to minor superficial imperfections.

Mr Greenwich said he believes it should be up to the supermarket to provide food they don’t want.

“It shouldn’t be the farmer’s responsibility to deal with the waste costs and impacts, and the higher cost of that then leads to fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets,” he said.

What do supermarkets do?

A spokesperson for Coles said the supermarket is working with suppliers to increase overall crop yields by using products not normally sold in stores.

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Coles Kitchen Zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles, sweet potato chips, and broccoli and cauliflower rice are all made from such products.

Coles works closely with industry partners, suppliers and customers to minimize food waste.

A spokesperson for Woolworths said it is working closely with growers to ensure it supplies the “right volume of fresh fruit and vegetables” to sustainably meet consumer demand.

“Our product needs are adaptable and responsive to the quantity and availability of fruits and vegetables on the market, which is influenced by seasonality, supply and weather,” said the spokesperson.

“This allows us to work with growers to meet customer demand, while also reducing food waste from unsold fruits and vegetables in our stores and avoiding unnecessary food miles and emissions associated with its transportation.”

Both supermarkets have ranges where people can buy less than perfect products, with Coles’ ‘I’m Perfect’ range and Woolworths’ ‘Odd Bunch’.

Coles donates unsold, edible food to food rescue organizations such as Secondbite and FoodBank, while Woolworths partners with FoodBank, OzHarvest and Fare Share.

Coles and Woolworths say measures have been taken to reduce food waste. Photo: Getty

What can we do?

Just because a fruit or vegetable doesn’t look good doesn’t mean it’s inedible.

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“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with food that isn’t aesthetically pleasing. They can be funny products with different shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t detract from the freshness and taste,” says Ball. said.

“It tastes and cooks exactly like any other fruit and vegetable.”

The NSW inquiry advised the Department of Planning and the Environment to develop and implement a “comprehensive consumer education campaign”.

The campaign should be designed to encourage households to reduce and prevent food waste.

Because children and young people can positively influence their families to change their habits, the report also recommended campaigning on social media and implementing education programs in schools.

The state government can also do more about food waste and food insecurity.

“NSW has no central food policy so there is no say in the issue of food – making sure people in need get safe, nutritious food and making sure you know we grow food in a sustainable way that we support our farmers through it ‘ said Mr Greenwich.

“And most importantly, that perfectly good food isn’t wasted.”

Mr Ball and Mr Brooks-Duncan also noted that this is not a specific problem for NSW, but for the whole of Australia.

“This is a national issue and there are initiatives across Australia,” they said.

“Food waste is responsible for about 3 percent of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

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