It is estimated that 30 percent of Canadian produce doesn’t make it to grocery stores due to cosmetic flaws. But as consumers demand less food waste and more affordable options, this produce with personality is getting a new lease on life as more Canadian grocers are selling perfectly edible, cosmetically-challenged vegetables at a reduced cost.
The trend started in Europe, and Canadian companies like Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills are now carrying these perfectly edible, cosmetically-challenged vegetables. On a recent trip to Save-On-Foods I discovered that they, too, were carrying B.C. Grown “Pugly Potatoes.”
Carrots may have an extra ‘leg’, bell peppers may have funny faces, or the potatoes might be smaller than usual in these lower grades of produce. Although they might not be pretty, there is plenty you can do with these vegetables and fruit. And they can save you money.
Here are five ways to cook with imperfect produce:
First, get your self a good veg scrub brush (or nail brush!) as that is essential to saving time with meal prep.
- Roast your veg: Save time with just a scrub. Root vegetables can keep their ‘jackets’ on. You can eat the skins of potatoes, sweet potatoes, baby beets, yams and hard winter squash if cut into thin pieces. Beet skins are easily removable after steaming or roasting if desired. Make a big batch at the beginning of the week and eat as a side dish or in salads or stews.
- Make puree or soup: Trim or peel vegetables and steam with broth or butter to make a nutritious puree or mash. Add more broth to make soup in the blender and garnish with fresh herbs.
- Great to Grate: Peel and grate those raw carrots and beets into salads or baked goods (what extra leg?)
- Juice ‘em: Blend small pieces of raw fruit & vegetables into juices, smoothies or homemade popsicles.
- Get baking: Peel and cut bananas and apples into pieces and seal in freezer bags. Use in smoothies or bake into breads or muffins.
If your local store isn’t marketing these vegetables yet, ask the produce manager to carry imperfect or lower grade produce. Check discount bins at local produce markets where you may find browning bananas or softening apples at steep discounts. Ask around at farmers markets you can sometimes score these at a great price.