America wastes a staggering 141 trillion calories of food each year, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study. That’s 1,249 calories per person per day, or 31% of the total food supply.
How is that possible? Well, some of that is food that we throw away at home. Some of it gets ruined by mold or bugs. Some bruises during transport or storage. But other food is discarded for a silly reason: because it’s deemed unattractive and unworthy, or not what fruits and vegetables are supposed to look like.
To point out the absurdity of throwing away food for aesthetic reasons, photographer Patrice de Villiers created some posters. They show various misshapen fruits & vegetables with messages like “Ugly Potato–Voted Miss Purée 2013,″ “The Ugly Carrot–In a Soup Who Cares?” and “The Failed Lemon–From the Creator of the Lemon.”
The images were commissioned by Intermarché, the third-largest grocer in France. It used them for its “Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables” campaign, which offered discounts for specimens that would normally be thrown away.
“The most vital element was ensuring the ‘strange but lovable’ theme shone through,” de Villiers said in an email. “[I] spent time observing our uglies trying to find the precise angle which showed both their ‘ugliness’ and their loveliness, finding their unique character.”
“It’s the taste that matters,” she adds. “Given the vast amount of fresh produce needlessly thrown away, the sooner more supermarkets implement something like the Intermarché strategy the better.”
In fact, Intermarché only gave discounts at a few stores in a single French town, and only for a two-day period. But you get the photographer’s point. It would be good if we started thinking about food for its taste, nutrition, and calorie value–not for how it appears on the shelves.