Aesthetically pleasing food is wasteful

By Kayla Hunt, Columnist

In a culture where image is of high importance, it is not surprising that we apply aesthetic expectations to the food that we eat as well. Many people take pictures of their food before they eat to post on their Snapchat stories and some people even have Instagram highlights solely catered to the good food that they relish at restaurants, markets, and even at home. 

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 40% of food in America is never eaten. About 52% of fruits and vegetables are tossed away.

Even though we take pride in the food that we eat, is there a correlation between image and taste? If an apple has a bruise on it, most put it down and sift through the barrel of apples until they find the ‘perfect’ one. Does the apple with a bruise differ in taste from the others? 

But these aesthetic standards aren’t only being held by consumers, they are being upheld by the USDA which supermarkets have to adhere to, and sometimes fruit and vegetables aren’t even leaving the farm due to cosmetics.

The USDA has a grades and standards system for fruits and vegetables, which is listed on their website and available to the public for viewing. Their standards are based on the aesthetics of the commodity, such as size and damage free (knife cuts, dirt, hail, etc.). They even have visual aids listed for each commodity that is considered acceptable. 

“The factors that supermarkets consider when purchasing produce are appearance, longevity, and packability- taste and nutrition don’t even make the list,” wrote Rochelle Bilow in her 2014 article, “Are the Beauty Standards for Fruits and Vegetables Unfair?.”

There are many ways that us as consumers can help to reduce food waste by lowering the strict cosmetic standards placed on fruits and vegetables.

NRDC has an initiative called Save The Food, which gives advice on how to preserve food instead of wasting it. They give you the tools on how to plan smarter so that it doesn’t go to waste, storage tips to preserve and increase the food life span, and different recipes that you can try with food scraps. You can follow them on Instagram @savethefood or visit their website, www.savethefood.com.

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