Reducing Carbon Emissions with Ugly Food

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The recent United Nations climate conference in Paris drew to a close with a historic deal, but there is still a long uphill battle ahead to reduce emissions and reach the target CO2 levels most climate scientists agree are safe. One creative solution has emerged from the farming industry, where food waste (and the decomposition of edible food in landfills) is responsible for over a billion tons of carbon emissions every year.

Nicholas Chabanne is an entrepreneur encouraging consumers to “eat ugly” through his campaign Gueules Cassées, which translates into Ugly Mugs. He is part of a growing international movement to encourage people to buy and consume more produce that would ordinarily be deemed too visually unappealing for supermarkets – and as a consequence end up in landfills. Often the fruits and vegetables which are discarded by major producers simply do not meet size criteria, or have minor superficial blemishes from the farm.

Chabanne is joined by like-minded entrepreneurs around the globe, including the San Francisco startup Imperfect Produce and the Portuguese cooperative Fruta Feia (or Ugly Fruit). With logistics in place, consumers can buy this produce at significant discounts, but most conventional grocery stores refuse to sell anything that doesn’t meet the strictest visual criteria.

So far, the movement to “eat ugly” has gained a foothold largely with home consumers, but restaurants buying directly from wholesale producers can do their part to increase demand as well. Meeting the climate goals established in Paris will take commitment and creative solutions across the board – hopefully this is one idea that diners can stomach just fine.

To read more, click here.

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