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Perfectly imperfect products hits mark

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Perfectly imperfect products hits mark

Beauty is only skin deep when it comes to fresh local fruit and veg that taste amazing but often goes to waste. WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

As a society, we are becoming obsessed with accessing fresh, nutritious fruit and vegetables and we are creating a love affair with the idea of supporting local growers and farmers.

The Sunshine Coast region and its surrounds are lucky enough to have some of the best growing conditions.

And a plethora of producers grow macadamias, ginger, fingerlimes, pineapples and just about every other fruit or vegetable you could think of.

But did you know there are some shocking statistics about how much produce does not even leave Australian farms as it is deemed unable to meet supermarket standards?

About 25 per cent is the answer.

Lucky there are some great initiatives in place to ensure this ‘perfectly imperfect’ produce does not go to waste.

In 2020, hoping to close a gap in farm waste, Richard Tourino launched Good & Fugly – a produce box delivery service that works with the fruit and veg supermarkets do not want.

It was while based in Sydney during pandemic lockdowns, when he and his family were ordering produce to their house, that Richard learnt that 30 per cent of produce worldwide goes to waste.

Speaking with My Weekly Preview after the recent launch of Good & Fugly here on the Coast, Mr Tourino says he knew something needed to be done to curb the waste.

So far, his efforts have helped rescue almost 700,000 kilograms of fruit and vegetables across Australia.

“I’d had imperfect produce from small places and thought, ‘Why can’t you have a box full of imperfects?’,” he says. “We found nowhere in Australia doing it, so we started small in a storage unit and have been blown away by the demand.”

With little more experience than a small vegie patch in his Sydney backyard, Mr Tourino began visiting markets and speaking with farmers to gauge their interest.

After getting a few farmers on board to provide, fresh seasonal produce, Mr Tourino says initial feedback from consumers was how surprised they were by the freshness.

“We wanted food that was fresh,” he says.

“Fugly refers to products that are too large or too small or may have a few cosmetic scars on them – but it’s got to be super fresh. The feedback we got from our customers was that it was some of the freshest produce they had ever tasted when comparing it to the supermarket.

“We are delivering produce that were picked yesterday or the day before, so it is super fresh when it is reaching the customer.”

Produce boxes are up to 30 per cent cheaper than supermarkets and Mr Tourino says Good & Fugly is forming long-term relationships with a growing network of farmers from Townsville to south Victoria.

There is also a ‘Fugly hotline’, which came about almost by accident, for when farmers have damaged stock due to weather or over-supply.

“In late 2020, I got a call out of the blue from a grower in Victoria who was a little bit stressed because a hailstorm had come through and damaged three orchards of peaches and he couldn’t sell them to the supermarkets,” Mr Tourino says.

“We took as many as we could and they were absolutely delicious.

“They just had some scars on the skin – no bruises, just scars.

“What we worked out was that sometimes farmers can have sudden circumstances that create the imperfects.

“So, we have created this hotline to take as much as we can when they need.

“We have even partnered to make a Good & Fugly marmalade to help use up produce so it doesn’t go to waste.”

With his in-laws living at Minyama, Mr Tourino says the uptake of the boxes in the region has been strong.

“Our goal now is to get more and more local growers on board to help reduce miles.”

In terms of what’s in the box, customers can choose a large or small, fruit-only, vegetable-only or a fruit-and- veg box delivered weekly or fortnightly.

Mr Tourino says that as it’s seasonal, the produce does change.

“There are a few staples in there like potatoes and lettuces,” he says.

“At the moment, we are going into a change of season and the citrus is starting to peter out and we are looking forward to the stone fruit that is coming into season.”

Visit goodandfugly.com.au.

 

Market time

Another way we can help reduce food miles is by visiting local farmers and produce markets.

Shane Stanley and Ishtarlia Stanley-McVinnie began the Noosa Farmers’ Market 21 years ago as a way to provide quality local produce to local consumers.

The weekly Sunday event has become a popular drawcard for people of all ages and is an important link between local farmers and consumers.

In March, the Noosa market launched click-and-collect and home-delivery services to help give residents even easier access to local produce.

“The services are for those days people cannot get to the markets but they can still get their produce,” Mr Stanley says.

“It’s not designed to take the customers away from the market, but to cater for those who cannot get there on a Sunday and open it up to the community more. The beauty of our service is that 100 per cent of the profit goes to the producers or the farmer.”

Also running the Kawana Waters Farmers’ Market, Mr Stanley says plans are in place to launch the services from there later in the year.

Mr Stanley says thta over the two decades of running the markets, he has been amazed by the continued support from the community and the intergenerational trends that have emerged.

“We have a strong local market that supports us. They are the backbone of what we do,” he says.

“People that were here as children now are shopping here as adults – sometimes with their own children. We are very proud of that.

“Even the farmers – we have farmers’ children who have grown up on the farm and are continuing it on. That is not usually the trend in farming in Australia.

“Most young people leave the farm, so we have found a way to make it profitable and enjoyable. It also gets them off the farms to meet the locals and be sociable.

“It’s great for the customers that they get to meet their farmers.”

 

How much food are Aussies wasting?

While plenty is being done to reduce food waste at the source, that chain needs to extend to consumers once they purchase produce and take it home.

Alarming new research from Compare the Market has revealed that more than two-thirds of Australians throw out food each week.

From a survey of 1004 people in July, the research found that 64.2 per cent of Australians admit to throwing out food every week because it doesn’t get used or goes out of date.

Compare the Market’s Natasha Innes says it’s a worrying statistic, given that the average Aussie spends $199.46 on groceries and more than a third of people say the grocery shop is their biggest financial burden.

“People appear to be overestimating how much food they’ll eat in a week and unfortunately, it’s those healthier items like vegetables and salads that are going to waste,” Ms Innes says.

“We know that items like lettuce and potatoes have seen massive price hikes in recent times and fresh produce doesn’t always come cheap.”

The data reveals that vegetables are the most likely to go unused, with 29.4 per cent of Aussies throwing produce away each week.

Millennials are the generation most likely to waste their vegies, with 42 per cent of the cohort admitting to throwing their greens out.

Meanwhile, 29.1 per cent of people are binning leftover meals, with bread (23.9 per cent), milk (21.1 per cent) and salad (19.9 per cent) not far behind.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • In Australia alone, we throw away 3.1 million tonnes of food. That’s 17,000 jumbo jets (747s).
  • Around the world, that number grows to 1.3 billion tonnes. That’s a mountain three kilometres across and almost 2.5 kilometres high.
  • Since 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water is used for agriculture, that’s 180 trillion litres of water.
  • In Australia, 25 per cent of produce does not leave the farm, while 30 per cent of all the world’s farmland produce goes to waste.

(Source: Good & Fugly)

FRESH PRODUCE MARKETS

Marcoola Market – every Saturday from 8am to noon at 10 Lorraine Avenue, Marcoola.

Kawana Waters Farmers’ Market – every Saturday from 6am to noon at 119 Sportsmans Parade, Birtinya.

Pomona Country Markets – every Saturday from 7am to noon at Stan Topper Park, Pomona.

Yandina Country Markets – every Saturday from 6am to noon at North Street, Yandina.

Arthur Street Country Markets – every Sunday from 7am to noon at 125 Arthur Street, Caloundra.

Imbil Country Markets – every Sunday from 8am to 1pm at Memorial Park in Yabba Creek Road, Imbil.

Fishermans Road Market – every Sunday from 6am to noon at Fishermans Road, Maroochydore.

Noosa Farmers’ Market – every Sunday from 6am to noon at 155 Weyba Road, Noosaville.

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