Project Juice, California’s esteemed organic cold-pressed juice and clean eating company, proudly aims to change public perception surrounding an emerging food category—ugly produce—through the launch of its new seasonal blend for spring: Ugly and Awesome.
So-called ugly produce is imperfect in only one way—cosmetically. Fruits and vegetables that have unusual shapes, colors, or sizes are sadly subject to the similar stringent physical expectations as the human body; The public has been conditioned to only desire aesthetically perfect food, thus produce appearing outside of the standardized norm is dubbed “ugly” and unsuitable for consumption. Despite having the same nutrient profiles and density as their pretty counterparts, six billion pounds of this perfectly edible produce is thrown out each year due to these societally imposed imperfections.
In order to hammer in the point and to honor the spring harvest, Project Juice launches its newest seasonal blend—Ugly and Awesome—this week, which uses 99 percent ugly produce. The juice, with 100 percent organic apples, strawberries, cucumber, bok choy and ginger, is high in antioxidants, B vitamins, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It also is helping keep food waste to a minimum.
Project Juice aspires to change the public consciousness by demonstrating the great loss these aesthetic limitations place on a healthy diet, most notably through careful inclusion of the nutritious and flavorful reject-produce in the company’s cold-pressed juices. Though purchasing imperfect product is not yet widely regarded, Project Juice is enthusiastically taking on so-called ugly produce and preventing it from being discarded as trash.
“At Project Juice, we use ‘ugly produce’ as a way to prevent delicious and nutritious produce from going to waste,” says Project Juice co-founder and ugly food advocate Marra St. Clair. “While the produce may not look as perfect as we have been conditioned to expect, it is nutritionally perfect and delivers awesome farm fresh flavor. Our juices are proof of that.”
Project Juice has been adopting practices from this emerging ugly food movement since its inception, advocating on behalf of consumers and farmers alike, but knows there is a long way to go in the effort. The billions of pounds of healthy food that would otherwise go to waste is not just a tragic dietary loss for people worldwide, but an enormous economic loss and complete waste of the water used to grow the product.
“This sourcing practice has allowed Project Juice to provide an additional revenue source to farmers for crops that would have otherwise been unusable through standard grocery channels,” St. Clair says. “I am thrilled that natural food leaders are beginning to experiment with customer acceptance of ‘ugly fruit.’ I think it is indicative of a huge, important step in the right direction, away from the proliferation of engineered food being our standard.”
By including ugly produce on its menu, Project Juice hopes to help shift public thinking away from wanting only what “looks” good on the outside, furthering the causes of sustainability and clean eating along the way. Using ugly produce not only saves tons of food, but makes healthy food more available and affordable, ultimately aiding mass nutrition and redefining beauty.