Picture this: you’re at the grocery store, loading up your cart with lots of healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, all the good stuff that you know leads to an enriching diet and a healthy body. As you peruse the carrots, you notice one that has an odd shape, with a few bumps, stumps, and crevices. You wrinkle your nose in disgust: what an ugly carrot! Pushing it aside, you opt for the “normal” looking carrot that looks like the cartoon ideal in your mind.
Even for people who are veteran healthy eaters and produce selectors, this is a very common scenario — and possibly, a very common mistake. As Americans, we’re more than a little spoiled when it comes to picking how our food looks. If it’s not pristine and blemish-free, we’re onto the next specimen that is. However, not only is this an unbelievable luxury that citizens of many other countries wouldn’t even dream of, it might not even be the most bang for your buck in terms of health.
New research suggests that so-called “deformed” or ugly produce might actually be better for your health, and more flavorful as well! First of all, blemishes on produce mean something that you might not have realized: they’re signs that the produce fought to survive, and won. They’re scars showing the resilience and vitality of that piece of fruit or vegetable, and researchers believe that those specimens might actually be richer in antioxidants. They also may contain 2-5% more natural sugar, which greatly adds to flavor as well.
Finally, being accepting of blemished produce means that we reduce food waste as a society and shift towards accepting “whole foods” as they really are. The more consumers wean themselves of all aspects of artificiality concerning their food — including its appearance — the more we can streamline our food supply chain and rely less on harmful additives and farming processes.
So, the next time you’re in the grocery store deciding whether or not to give that ugly duckling zucchini a chance, pick it up and know that you’re doing something positive for both your body as well as the ecosystem!