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08/08/2013
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Deformed But Delicious

Student Campaign Combats Waste

Deformed carrots, knobbly lemons and discolored zucchini are deemed unsellable by German supermarkets, resulting in an enormous amount of food waste each year. Students here recently launched a campaign to help get the ugly specimens back on store shelves.

It doesn't take an advertising genius to know that unsightly goods are a hard sell. German supermarkets cottoned on to the principle a long time ago, which is why bruised and blemished produce rarely makes it onto their shelves.

Though fruit and vegetables sold in Germany are governed by European Union food regulations, individual supermarket chains require suppliers to meet stringent cosmetic standards, leading to nearly 40 percent of agricultural produce being destroyed, ploughed back into German fields as fertilizer or processed into other food products each year.

Misshapen fruit and vegetables are perfectly edible. In terms of quality, they are just as good as their more attractive counterparts -- that much has been confirmed by scientists. It's a message that three German students at the University of Weimar in the eastern state of Thuringia recently set out to spread among consumers.

Making More Sustainable Choices

Giacomo Blume, 25, Moritz Glück, 29, and Daniel Plath, 26 -- who major in visual communications -- have developed a campaign aimed at getting unsightly produce back into German households. They would like to see the creation what they call "Ugly Fruits" supermarkets -- stores that would focus exclusively on selling produce rejected by other chains.

The campaign aims to encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices. One initiative proposed by the graduates is to sell deformed produce from the back of garbage trucks at local farmers' markets, with the intention of shocking Germans into rethinking their consumer habits.

The campaigners believe that it's about time these agricultural oddities reclaimed their rightful place in German society.

"Whatever tastes good should end up on your plate, and not in the trash can," comments vegetable farmer Thomas Günthel, who is featured in the campaign. "No matter what it looks like."

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