Twenty to 40 per cent of UK-produced fruit and vegetables are rejected because they don't meet aesthetic standards demanded by the food industry, according to the Soil Association.
If that doesn't make you want to run and live in the forest, we're not sure what will. Taking a more pragmatic approach than us, however, is Jenny Costa.
A Mayfair hedge fund manager turned entrepreneur, she founded Rubies in the Rubble seven years ago. A preserves company that makes relishes and chutneys out of 'ugly' produce, it's a sustainable solution to criminal waste.
A big thank you from the Rubies team to everyone who came down to our Surplus-Pop-Up. Massive thank you too to @dualit_ltd for providing us with the best toasters in town and to @dailydoseldn and @plentyvegan for creating the extra special juice pulp bread which was the star of the show!! We've now closed up shop but will hopefully be popping-up again soon! #london #popup #londonlife #londonpopup #vegan #glutenfree #vegetarian #sefridges #foodie
"I was brought up on a farm on the west coast of Scotland, and my childhood was really sustainable," Jenny tells us. "My mum was an avid gardener and cook, so I wanted to do was set up a brand that honoured traditional means of preserving food, just like her."
She became "obsessed" with the impact food waste has on our CO2 levels, and became adamant that it all came down to how much (or, in reality, how little) people valued the journey our food makes to get to our supermarkets and our plates.
Out of shape or wonky fruit and vegetables are wasted every day – so Jenny decided to deal directly with the farmers who supply the supermarkets. Normally the farmers would have a strict shape specification to stick to, meaning that a sizeable amount of their crop would go to waste.
"It's incredibly rewarding to create a market for a section of a farmer's crop that previously didn't have a market at all," Jenny says.
In the early years, Jenny ran her kitchen in association with Crisis shelter in East London, giving work to women aged between 18 and 63.
"It's a project I'd love to do again, as long as I can keep the processes sustainable," she says.
In order to ensure that the products were loved by customers in their own right, Jenny decided not to shout to the rooftops about her ethical mantra. For the first few years, she wanted her spicy tomato relishes and banana ketchups to speak for themselves.
"We wanted everyone to think first with their tummies, and then fall in love with the backstory," she says.
For the ultimate dip, swirl some of our Spicy Tom relish into a bowl of houmous and dip some toasted sourdough in. Perfect for picnics! 👌🏼 #foodie #recipe #picnic #summer #spicy #tomato #houmous #foodphotography #foodstyling #photography #aerial #houmous #nowaste #wastefree #zerowaste #vegan #vegetarian #glutenfree
She also wanted the entire project to symbolise the use of products that would otherwise have been ignored or not fulfilled their potential, and that applied to her initial packaging choices too.
"In the beginning, we even used unwanted cut off materials from Liberty London for our labels," she says.
Jenny has seen a promising surge in awareness of food waste, and hopes that the UK's approach will soon match the more conscious perspectives of other countries in Europe, who stock their supermarkets much more seasonally.
"People are getting more and more interested in where their fruit and veg is from and that helps," she says.
Taking a look at what you already have in the house, and thinking about whether you can freeze leftovers instead of throwing them away are the first easy movements we can make to reduce food waste, according to Jenny. You can even freeze herbs, apparently.
"If you can refrain from being married to a recipe, substitute when you can with ingredients you already have. Above all, we need to see food as a precious resource."