This food is super-ugly, mega-delicious, and helping to fight food waste.

Chances are, right now, your fridge is filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables.

These precious picks were hand-selected by you (or someone in your household) from piles at the grocery store. Before they got to the store, they were hand-selected by farmworkers to make sure only the best-looking, flaw-free produce made it from the fields to the store, to your grocery bag, and finally home to your fridge.


Image via BuzzFarmers/Flickr.

And that's a big problem. Because, just like people, not all produce looks flawless 100% of the time — and that's OK!

Some is misshapen or bruised. Maybe it didn't ripen perfectly. Maybe the stem isn't in the right place. Whatever reason, that produce generally doesn't make it to stores and instead gets shipped to processing plants or landfills.

One-third of American grocery store produce goes uneaten. That's about 133 billion pounds of perfectly good food.

And when millions of people around the globe aren't getting enough to eat, that's pretty bad news.

Fortunately grocery chains around the world are trying to change that.

In 2014, Intermarche, one of France's three biggest grocery chains, launched a campaign celebrating Inglorious Fruits and Veg. They sold the produce for 30% less than its more-attractive counterparts — and by all accounts, they sold a lot of it.

Last year, two Canadian grocery chains, Loblaws and Sobeys, launched their own campaigns selling less-than-pretty produce. Loblaws sells Naturally Imperfect peppers, apples and potatoes for 30% off, and Sobeys stores in Quebec ran a successful three-month campaign last summer selling lightly imperfect cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, carrots, peppers, and apples at a 30% discount.

“If you were to grow produce in your backyard there’s a lot that would grow that wouldn’t look as pretty as what you would see in a grocery store. And Mother Nature doesn’t grow everything perfectly,” — Dan Branson, Loblaw senior director responsible for produce, floral, and garden items.

There are grocery chains selling imperfect produce in the U.K., Australia, and Portugal. And, just last week, Whole Foods announced its plans to get in to the ugly food game.

The message is clear: It's time to break the stigma around ugly produce.

They're a smart addition to your grocery bag since they're up to 30% cheaper, and buying them helps keep unnecessary food waste out of landfills. Plus, it's hard to deny how beautiful they are:

This apple loves the skin it's in.


Image by Heather Libby/Upworthy.

This pepper is feeling it's look.


Image by Heather Libby/Upworthy.

These bruised pears know every scar tells the story of a life lived well.


Image via Keith Williamson/Flickr.

These heirloom tomatoes know beauty comes in every color.


Image via Sarah R/Flickr.

These carrots are gorgeous — inside and out.


Image via peem5ter/Flickr.

This strawberry is all about that taste, 'bout that taste, not bitter.


Image via ComedyNose/Flickr.

This tomato has had enough of your outdated beauty standards.


Image via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr.

These cucumbers think being sizeist is your problem, not theirs.


Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr.

This pineapple is too fruitylicious for you, babe.

Image via Atibens/Flickr.

Here's the great thing about imperfect produce: Once it's in chopped into a salad or cooked into a meal, it looks and tastes exactly the same as its pretty counterparts.

For lunch today, I had two apple halves with peanut butter. One fresh from my bag of "naturally imperfect" ones. The other from my handpicked stash of pretty, perfect ones. Can you tell the difference?

Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Spoiler alert: Neither could I.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.