Today, I want to pay tribute to a kind of produce we see all over town around Halloween: ugly veggies.
The other day, my mother-in-law brought home a funny looking crookneck squash that she grew in her garden. We wondered if the squash was safe to eat, and I recalled the fable of the ugly duckling. That night, it transformed into a gorgeous velouté!
With the right attention and careful selection, ugly produce can make the most beautiful meals. Here are three reasons why we should pay more consideration to deformed fruits and vegetables.
#1 Ugly veggies end up on farmers’ tables!
Have you ever wondered if farmers really “ship the good apples out?” In reality, farmers often keep ugly fruits and vegetables for themselves or for their local markets. They transport the pretty apples to grocery stores, since something that looks more attractive usually sells better. But farmers know taste buds are blind! Ugly apples taste the same. Farmers have spent hours nourishing their soil and taking care of every plant like their own babies. They know how to assess the quality of produce by its taste, smell, texture, weight, and pedigree. Produce’s beauty is not skin deep.
#2 Embracing gnarly veggies is better for your wallet, and for the environment
On one hand, nutritionists encourage eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which can put a strain on your food budget. On the other hand, billions of pounds of produce are wasted each year. This happens because food distributors usually don’t buy produce that doesn’t fit the mold. As a result, perfectly tasty produce gets shunned… and ends up wasted! If you want to embrace the ugly produce cause, you can start buying irregularly shaped produce.
A few months ago, an Oakland start-up called “Imperfect” launched an ugly fruits and veggies delivery service. They offer produce at much lower prices than grocery stores. If you are a social media addict and you stumble upon a “cosmetically challenged” zucchini or pomegranate at your farmers’ market, buy it, photoshoot it like a star, and upload your piece of art to Tumblr, at http://uglyveggie.tumblr.com/ or on Twitter, @UglyFruitAndVeg.
#3 Ugly outside, scrumptious inside!
Some say beauty comes in any shape, size, color and texture. Why should we pay so much attention to appearance when so many recipes require you to to peel that bumpy squash, chop that crooked cucumber or liquefy that bulky mango? Soups, smoothies, sauces, medleys — there are a million recipes that can celebrate the inner beauty of ugly fruits and veggies.
Here is my favorite ugly squash velouté recipe — For 4 people:
– In a large pot, chop medium pieces of your favorite monster-looking squash, one medium sized lumpy yam, and two gnarled carrots. Cover with water and boil until the veggies are fork-tender.
– Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and curry to taste.
– With a hand mixer, purée the veggies into a smooth velouté as you slowly add one can of coconut milk. Voilà !
Don’t forget to send me your before-and-after pictures in the comments !