Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Story of Fruta Feia

How direct marketing can save the world, or atleast clean up our food system....don't you love good news? 

Last week, the New York Times ran an article about a new company in Lisbon that is increasing the amount of affordable, fresh, produce available to the community, while decreasing food waste. Fruta Feia, or “Ugly Fruit”, is a produce distribution company, modeled after the traditional CSA structure.  In 2013, Isabel Soares started the cooperative that buys “ugly” produce from farmers who would otherwise have to discard it due to unreasonably high aesthetic standards in the retail industry.

 Soares and her team of volunteers are on a mission, well, many missions actually. The work they do is revolutionizing how people relate to food in a social, environmental, and political context.  In addition to industry standards, the European Commission sets strict requirements about produce entering the retail market. The assumption is that the quality of the produce can be assessed based on cosmetic factors- but the more than 400 satisfied customers of Fruta Feia disprove that assumption. Soares states that her goal is “to break the dictatorship of aesthetics, because it has really helped increase food wastage.”

There are currently only three paid employees at Fruta Feia, with many more volunteers, but their hard work is paying off. There is a waiting list of over 1,000 people waiting for their produce share. 21 tons of food have been saved from going to waste, and were re-routed to consumers. As for the EU Commission, in June of 2014 they will publish a new set of recommendations concerning food labeling, in an effort to reduce waste.

It’s nice to hear news with win-win-win outcomes: consumers receiving fresh, affordable food, farmers making a profit on what would otherwise go to waste, and a small cooperative pulling together to help repair broken links in the food system. Read the full article here: 

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