Food waste tackled by uni friends sourcing imperfect produce from farms to sell to consumers

By Eden Hynninen · 

Read it straight from ABC here.

Did you know that Australia wastes $20 billion worth of food each year?

A large chunk of that is in agriculture and post-harvest, according to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

That’s what friends Josh Ball and Josh Brookes-Duncan from business Farmers Pick are trying to help reduce.

Two-legged carrots

The pair spend their days visiting farmers sourcing misshapen cherries or two-legged carrots to resell and educate consumers on the misconceptions of edible produce.

“About 2.4 million tonnes of food is never taken off the farm, and is simply ploughed back in or fed to cattle,” Mr Ball said.

“Often our visits are met with confusion, because for decades so many growers across Australia have been told what good is.

“Good has always been about aesthetics, how big and round and red and juicy things are, not necessarily the taste and nutrition, which is really what food is about.”

Mr Ball sources misshapen vegetables from about 50 farms around the country, and as long as the produce is fresh, he will sell it.

“In terms of aesthetic and colour, we don’t really have any criteria,” he said.

“And the response has been overwhelmingly positive, usually customers have a good laugh, when the carrot has three legs or the broccoli is really small.

“It’s all a bit of fun.”

30pc not suitable for larger chains

Catherine Velisha, a farmer in Werribee South, on the outskirts of Melbourne, said about 20 to 30 per cent of her vegetable crop is not considered suitable for the larger chains.

“The input costs are all exactly the same,” Ms Velisha said.

“It’s really great that consumers also get to see that other than its appearance, it’s exactly the same as what is seen as a more superior product.”

Ms Velisha said the blame also lay with the consumer.

“If we, as consumers, are leaving things that are a bit smaller behind … that obviously drives what the next product brought in looks like,” she said.

“So we’ve got a lot of power as consumers.

“I think maybe … we feel like the ‘odd bunch’ let’s the conversation down a little bit – why are they odd and who’s decided what’s perfect?”