I have been watching the excitement over Asda’s wonky veg box scheme with interest. For those of you who have missed the news, crusading chef Jamie Oliver along with food and farming champion Jimmy Doherty have been promoting the use of misshapen fruit and vegetables, which are normally consigned to the bins by the supermarket chains and other food outlets.
The veg box from Asda contains five kilos of vegetables, enough wonky food to make 31 meals, according to the supermarket. And the box costs just £3.50, which is a 30 per cent saving against the usual price of vegetables.
What I have always found strange is that the food vendors thought we all craved perfectly formed vegetables in the first place. Surely I am not the only one who has a smirk when I buy a slightly suggestive intertwined carrot, breast-shaped potatoes or a tomato with a small phallic-shaped growth? These are little moments to enliven the shopping experience and I for one, never miss the chance to put one of these little oddities into my basket.
That supermarkets are now packing them up and marketing them as a brand all of their own is both pleasing and irritating all at the same time.
For the farmers who can now sell their misshapen vegetables, it is really great news. Farmers work incredibly hard to protect their crops from pest and disease, there is little they can do to stop the odd weird vegetable from growing.
It is also good news in the whole fight against waste. Globally, 800-900 million tons of food either rot in storage or don’t make it out of the fields because farmers cannot find a market. If the UK starts to put a dint into that outrageous wastage, then that is nothing but a good thing.
What is irritating, is that it has had to come to this. It has taken a millionaire, celebrity chef to tell the supermarkets that they had got their consumer research wrong. The vast majority of people in the UK could not care less if their carrots were slightly wonky or their apples had an inexplicable bump, mostly we just want nice tasting, inexpensive food.
Jamie Oliver gets up my nose and yet every time he appears on television with a new message for us, he is annoyingly right. In this case, as with obesity, as with school meals, as with his simple meals campaign, the Essex boy has done good again.