BEAUTIFULLY UGLY, UTTERLY PERFECT
A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY ON THE WONDERS OF WONKY VEGETABLES
BY FOOD STYLIST LAUREN BECKER AND PHOTOGRAPHER CHRIS HOWLETT
WHY GO WONKY?
BY ALICE WILBY
Traditionally destined for landfill because they didn’t meet the strict aesthetic standards imposed by EU law, these wonky wonders have been enjoying a bit of a renaissance this year. Not only because that EU law has expired. But because clued up consumers, aghast at the criminal level of food waste and baffled as to why they should be denied the chance to purchase veg that is not only delicious but quite frankly rather entertaining, (just Google ‘funny shaped vegetable’ if you’re in doubt) have been demanding wider availability of misshaped fruit and vegetables.
And in the true manner of any modern day cause worth it’s salt, celebrity chefs turned food campaigners, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall have - quite rightly - weighed in, both demanding the supermarkets do more to tackle food waste and reintroduce misshapen fruit and vegetables to their shelves.
This year the supermarkets have responded. In February, Asda, taking up Oliver’s challenge to extend their range, launched the UK’s first supermarket ‘wonky vegetable’ box and Tesco followed suit in March, launching their ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ range.
Much is yet to be done to bring these beauties en mass to our plates where they belong, but it’s a great start. And as Lauren so skilfully showcases here, when they look this good, why would you resist?
Food Stylist, Lauren Becker says, "I was drawn to creating this series to highlight not only how incredible nature is in creating such incredible edible objects, but to highlight the excessive food waste that occurs because retailers won’t sell what they deem to be “perfect produce”. According to figures from the GFS, in the UK retailers are rejecting up to 40% of edible produce due to ‘imperfections” in shape, colour, size and blemishes. The FAO sums up that around a third of the world’s food goes to waste, which is roughly 1.3 billion tonnes. Meanwhile 900 million people around the globe are starving. This just can’t continue. So with this series I want to celebrate and highlight the beauty in the imperfect, to embrace the unusual and odd, they are equally delicious, if not better, so don’t let them go to waste! I hope these images inspire you to shop at your local farmers markets and buy those cute tiny apples, those gigantic eggplants, the bulging odd tomatoes and those funny curly cucumbers because every vegetable should be allowed to be as unique as you and I and none should go to waste."
Stylist - Lauren Becker at Novel Beings.
Photographer - Chris Howlett.