Ugly produce in India is treated like dark skin by urban buyers. The entire world is facing this problem. Americans waste 30% produce just because it won’t look good. India being Agri based nation we never heard this story but with an increase in urbanisation consumers only start believing that beauty is better.  Just talk to your grandparents and you will realise that ugly produce was never their concern while buying farm fresh produce.

I just relate this to Mahatma Gandhi’s 2 Famous Quote:

  • “Today cities dominate and drain villages so that they are crumbling to ruin.”
  • “Urbanization in India is slow but sure death for her villages and villagers”

Consumers who are interested in buying local produce when shopping at farmers markets, “imperfections” can be a good signal that it actually was grown by a small-scale, local farmer and didn’t come out of the commercial food system.

Let’s try to understand freshness for leafy veggies.

Why vegetables do not look fresh after harvesting:

  • When vegetables are connected to the ground it maintains the water level inside the plant and makes sure that it won’t dehydrate.
  • Dehydration is the main reason because of which vegetables looks dull immediately after some time of harvesting depending on the external temperature condition.
  • Due dehydration reduction in weight and shrinkage in size is observed.

Why vegetable vendors spray water on vegetables:

  • Dehydration damages external look n feel of vegetables or fruits; to avoid this situation continuous water spraying is done.
  • Every vegetable vendor knows that customers will only buy products which looks fresh regardless of its actual freshness measured in terms of time after harvesting.

Problems with water spraying 

  • In some cases, constant spraying on produce may do more harm than good.
  • Excess water on greens allows microorganisms to degrade plant tissue, thereby producing mold or rot.
  • Water Soluble Vitamins
    • One of the Major concerns about water spraying on vegetable is the loss of nutrients. Water-soluble vitamins can leach out or be destroyed during this process.
      o Vitamin C and members of the vitamin B group are water-soluble sprayings of water may reduce the quantity of these essential vitamins.
      o Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in your body, so you must get them from your diet each day

Similarly, the lot of other vegetables like potato, cabbage, beetroot, cucumber, carrots and bitter gourd etc are rejected for their looks. Unfortunately, all these odd shaped vegetables are absolutely fine with quality and taste. Still, Urban Consumers reject those produce.

We eat vegetables with eyes but need to shift our focus to taste rather than looks. The leafy vegetables which are looking bit pale will have better taste than those are kept fresh with the excess spraying of water.

The best solution to all above problems is to make sure that any vegetables reach your doorstep within 16 to 18 hours after harvesting from the fields. Yes, that’s what Shop for Change Fair Trade is trying to do so. We do not spray water on vegetables to make it look fresher instead we cut down miles travelled by the vegetables to make sure all nutrient values are intact.

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