Activity Overview: Food takes energy to grow, store, and prepare. Food is also an important resource. When you think of produce, fruits, and vegetables, what do you think of? Close your eyes and picture a carrot. Do you picture a slim, orange vegetable? Not all carrots are orange and not all carrots are sleek. Many carrots grow crooked or curved. This can happen for many reasons, including when there is a rock in the ground or extreme weather changes.
Carrots are only one example of what is known as ugly produce. Ugly produce is the name of the fruits and vegetables that grow this way. Farms sort out most if not all of their ugly produce and do not send them to grocery stores. Grocery stores don’t think the ugly produce sells, so they don’t buy it, meaning farmers have to get rid of it. Approximately 20% of all U.S. produce never enters the market but ends up left in the field or transported to landfills.¹ This food waste also wastes food and energy.
In reality, there is nothing wrong with the ugly produce. It tastes the same and has all of the same benefits as conventional produce.
So what can you do?
Print and copy the outlines of the fruit and vegetables on the two coloring pages linked here. Ask students to use an ink pen or pencil to redraw the outlines of the fruits based on the description above of the “ugly carrot.” Then use any color combinations that would make these fruits stand out in the grocery store. For example, fruits can take a non-standard color or feature freckles, fruits, or blemishes. Compare different ugly fruits between classmates to see some of the different impressions and look online for examples from the farm.