• U.S.
  • Environment

America’s Unrealistic Food Beauty Standards Cause Huge Amounts of Waste

1 minute read

Large amounts of fresh produce grown in the United States is being thrown away, left to rot in the field or fed to livestock because of unrealistic cosmetic standards for food, according to data and interviews with everyone from farmers to researchers compiled by the Guardian.

Many of the paper’s interviews with those involved in growing, shipping and selling our food concluded that much of the waste happens long before consumers get their hands on it because of minor blemishes. Scarred and oddly shaped vegetables are regularly abandoned in the field to cut down on the expense and labor involved in harvesting them.

“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida, told the Guardian. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”

One government estimate is that nearly one third of all food produce is wasted by consumers and retailers every year, totaling nearly $160 billion in the United States, according the paper.


More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com