Looks bad but tastes just as good: Changing our perception of food

There are two red peppers below. Which pepper would you prefer to cook with?


The odds are pretty good you would prefer to use the pepper on the right because it looks perfect. The pepper on the left is misshapen, slightly off-colour and there are a couple of imperfections, making it less appealing. But does the left pepper taste any different than the right pepper? No.

If this is the case, then why do we prefer the right pepper to the left? The reason is that we’ve become trained to see the right pepper as “good” while the left pepper is “bad.” Despite both peppers likely tasting the same, consumers and retailers alike would take the right pepper to sell and buy, respectively, meaning the left pepper would go to waste. Thankfully, we may be seeing the start of a shift in the perception of food at the retailer level which in turn could affect the perception of consumers.

Recently, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. launched a new program to “sell blemished, misshapen or undersized produce under the No Name Naturally Imperfect brand.”

As an organization that aims to help curb the growing epidemic of food waste in North America’s landfills, we applaud this effort by Loblaw to reduce their own food waste. Yet, food retailers only account for a small portion of the food waste system. In fact, food retailers are responsible for 10 per cent of all food waste.

 At over 47 per cent, consumers are the major cause behind food making its way into our local landfills. By providing produce under their Naturally Imperfect label, Loblaw is empowering customers to make the choice to help reduce food waste. It’s a step in the right direction.

How can we help change this trend? We change it by changing how we see food. For years, consumers have been trained to believe that aesthetically-pleasing produce is the only option, making anything with even the most minor of imperfections simply not as good. It’s this mindset that sees perfectly good fruits and vegetables being thrown away because they look subpar.

Hopefully with the introduction of No Name Naturally Imperfect produce, we will soon see other food retailers helping to not only reduce their own food waste but to also help change the perception of food.

What do you think of Loblaw’s new campaign to rebrand fruits and vegetables with imperfections? Will it help change the average consumer’s perception of the food they buy? Find us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and tell us what you think of Loblaw’s new line of products as well as other ways you think that could help change the perception of food in North America.