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Stop Vegetable Bullying! Our Obsession with Perfect Produce

Every time we visit the supermarket we’re used to seeing perfectly round and shiny apples, curvaceous pearly green lettuces, lengthy, bright orange carrots, and beautiful bell shaped peppers. Unfortunately, a lot of the fruit and veg grown in Britain will never make this cut. Supermarkets are notorious for rejecting those two legged carrots, purplish potatoes, and mutant mushrooms. But would we really mind eating them if we tried them? After all, vegetables are usually chopped up and cooked anyway.

When I visited my (fanatical gardener) Dad on Father’s day he was busy uprooting radishes to put in a stir fry. The photograph below shows two radishes that grew side by side in his garden. They were the first two that he plucked out, and they couldn’t be any more different! The small, round one would be happily welcomed onto a supermarket shelf, but the large one? That would probably end up on a landfill site. Dad was incredibly happy with the over-large radish. Three times as large as a normal radish, he gets more for his effort, and it’s easier to chop up! Plus, they both tasted exactly the same.

Dad regularly finds mutant double onions in his garden; I usually snap them to put in curries. It means I only have to chop one onion! For several years I’ve also only purchased the ‘value’ brand of apples from my local supermarket. Nine times out of ten they’re just too small versions of more expensive fruits.

Radish brothers.

With the current trend of elongated snowy and rainy weather, harvests are poor, and not only do farmers have to worry about their crops not surviving, they then have to worry about whether or not they will be able to sell what does survive. Sad pictures emerged last year of abandoned fields of lettuces. Too small to even try and sell, it wasn’t even cost effective to remove them from the ground. We’re also constantly barraged with orders not to waste food. But these ‘marketing standards’ regulations on fruit and veg are enforced by the EU, the same group advising us to minimise our food waste.

Nowadays we’re so used to seeing perfect produce that we’re terrified of eating a black banana, or a sprouting potato. Within just a few days, the innocent spud can turn from a tasty tea time staple, to a poisonous orb sprouting little weeds of death.

A sad and abandoned red pepper.

Vegetables are just like people. They don’t need to look the best on the outside to be wonderful on the inside. So let’s stop bullying our vegetables. Treat them all equally. They’re all tasty, and they’re all good for us. Sometimes their funny shapes can make us laugh and smile, and whole shows are dedicated to odd looking and enormous food. Let’s show veg the love it deserves!

If you’d like to start growing your own vegetables, and treating them right, check out our great selection of raised beds, the fastest and easiest way to get growing. Our grow your own section also features a useful range of composts, planters, and grow bags. And don’t forget, if you do grow something you really can’t stand to eat, or if something goes rotten, pop it in the compost bin, and it can help all of its friends grow instead.