I like shopping at the farmer’s market. It is a short bike ride from my house. The quality is excellent, and I enjoy bantering with the local produce growers working the stands. Buying what is in season and grown locally is also an easy way to contribute to the local economy and help the planet. But what I really like are the wonky vegetables.

There has been a great deal of media coverage about food waste in the field to fork process. Part of the problem is that vast numbers of fruits and vegetables are tossed each year because they are aesthetically unappealing.

Large resellers have cosmetic standards regarding the size, shape, and color of the produce they will purchase from farmers. For example, a 2014, UK National Farmers’ Union report found that 20% of gala apples grown were being wasted because they were not at least 50% red in color. The report also found that 20% of onions and 13% of potatoes grown in the UK are wasted on cosmetic grounds. Since this report was published a lot has been accomplished in reducing food waste, but a more recent study found that 16% of crops still get wasted because they do not fit grocery store specifications.

So find your local farmers market and save an ugly vegetable today.

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