- A Change.org petition, started by nutritionist Stefanie Sacks and food waste specialist Jordan Figueiredo, is calling on Wal-Mart and Whole Foods to commit to selling imperfect produce. The petition targets these food retailers because they represent "both ends of the food industry [pricing] spectrum," and therefore may offer the greatest impact on combating retail food waste.
- More than 100,000 people, including notable food industry icons like Chef Mario Batali, have signed the petition.
- According to the petition, 26% of produce gets thrown away before it reaches the grocery store due to cosmetic standards. “If produce fails to make the grade for size, shape, or color, retailers deem it 'ugly' and refuse to sell it in their stores," the petition states. The petition adds that the waste is irresponsible when one-sixth of America is food-insecure.
If this effort — dubbed What the Fork Are You Doing With Your Produce Wal-Mart & Whole Foods? —sounds familiar, it's because Figueiredo launched the social media @UglyFruitAndVeg Campaign in 2014. Sacks is also known for a TEDx talk called "How Small Changes in Food Choice Can Make BIG Everyday Differences."
Sacks and Figueiredo want Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and other grocery giants to market ugly produce through a fun campaign, similar to French supermarket Intermarche's Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables Campaign that promoted imperfect produce and sold it at a discount.
While Wal-Mart declined comment to Fox Business, Whole Foods said in a statement, "our goal is zero waste, and we do everything we can to avoid sending food waste to the landfill." The statement noted that Whole Foods uses imperfect produce in prepared foods and juices, donates to food rescues and has composting programs.
There are many reasons food waste is a problem. In its most recent report, the U.S. Agriculture Department estimated that 133 billion pounds of food were lost at the retail and consumer levels in 2010, almost one-third of the nation’s food supply. Energy, water, and chemicals that were used to grow the food are also wasted. Then, as it rots in the landfill, food waste produces methane.
Additionally, in 2012, 49 million people were "food insecure," meaning that at times during the year, they didn’t have enough to eat. Good food that is not discarded could help feed the hungry.
Curbing waste starts with awareness in every kitchen and grocery store, as well as in the community. Many municipalities are starting composting programs to urge residents to be more conscious of food waste disposal.