As a Londoner, I spend a lot of time on public transport. My attention was caught a few months ago by a hard hitting ‘Riverford’ advert about the ethical impact of our everyday grocery shop. It seems that vegetables are getting a lot of attention right now. And this time, not so much for their health benefits.
Wherever you live in the country, you might have stumbled across advertisements for crooked carrots, curvy cucumbers, or bootylicious beetroot. The question is, are vegetables the next big thing to add to our ethical to do list?
It feels like every week there is a new ethical trend, which can be frankly overwhelming to keep up with. So what’s the big deal with wonky veg, and should we be buying it?
What is it?
‘Wonky Veg’ was a term used by Asda in 2016 – the first supermarket to sell veggies that did not quite meet the aesthetic standards required to be sold with the normal stock. Supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Aldi have also jumped on the wagon and sell all kinds of wonky veg to help tackle food waste.
Why is there a need to sell wonky veg?
In the UK, up to a whopping 40% of veg can be wasted for not looking the part. This is a huge amount, given that an estimated 11% of the world’s population go hungry.
But hang on, wasn’t veg always wonky?
Since the beginning of time the veg we’ve eaten has been wonky. It’s only been since ‘better’ farming methods and mass production have come into play, that perfectly edible products have been considered ‘unsuitable’ for sale.
Counting the cost
Are we experiencing a cultural shift to greater tolerance towards how our food looks? And should we be splashing the cash to buy it?
Some Organic companies have jumped on the new trend, selling veggies with enticing strap-lines like ‘wonky from my head to-ma-toes’. This stuff is on the pricier end, and less affordable for the average individual. But it’s not the only option for those pursuing a more ethical vegetable shop.
You can pick up some bargains in the following places:
Asda – £3.50 per box (with 30% savings on standard lines)
Morrisons – £3.50 per box
Lidl – trialled selling 5kg boxes for only £1.50 back in 2018 (keep your eyes peeled for new releases)
Tesco – savings can be made by shopping the ‘perfectly imperfect range’
I sometimes wonder if wonky veg is a ploy for rich companies to make more money under the guise of reducing waste and becoming more ethical. But ultimately, a reduction in food waste is something to be celebrated. Big businesses are controlled by the consumer, so where we as the customer show a demand for food which would otherwise be wasted, this will not go unnoticed.
My ultimate hope is that this is the start of a new beginning, where food isn’t wasted, and veg is just veg. Wonky or not.
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