You probably think of the supermarket produce aisle as one of the more natural parts of the store. But a lot of work has gone into the presentation of those gleaming piles of fruit and vegetables. In the fresh foods business, there are usually 4 different classes, or "lines" of fresh food.
Here are the four classes of supermarket produce:
• Line 1 is portrait-quality fruits, ideally shaped with rich color and no imperfections. These are usually sold to high end retailers and the Japanese market (which won't accept anything else).
• Line 2 is what you see in the average supermarket, some differences in shape and size but otherwise no imperfections.
• Line 3 will have varying shape and size, some deformity and minor dents, bruises, etc... Line 3 produce usually goes to lower-end stores or is reprocessed. For example, if half a strawberry has gone soft it will be cut in half and sold as "cut fruit"
• Line 4 has significant deformities or damage. It's usually sold to juice makers, frozen food purveyors, or canned goods manufacturers.
The key point here is that all of these distinctions are made based on visual differences in quality. The supermarket knows that the consumer won't buy a fruit or vegetable that looks sub-par, so they won't waste the shelf space on it.
But nutritionally, a Line 1 product is exactly the same as a Line 4 product and all the divisions between. Your body will get the same vitamins and minerals from a lopsided vegetable as a perfect one, and often you can buy the ugly and bruised produce at a better price. You'll also get the same nutrition from a bag of frozen vegetables or fruit, although taste and texture undoubtably suffers in the freezing process.
Remember that these large, beautiful vegetables are a fairly new addition to the supermarket. In the last 50 years farming techniques have progressed so much that even the worst produce would have been the cream of the crop for your grandparents. And some studies have shown that as vegetables are getting bigger and brighter their taste and nutritional content is actually going down. This makes sense. The more energy a plant devotes to visual appearances the less it has to pack into nutrients and flavor.
A French supermarket chain decided to take the problem of mishapen fruits and vegetables head-on. Check out the video here!
So don't be overly picky about how your fruit and vegetables look. The ugly ones might just be tastier and better for your body!