Class Year

2020

Access Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Science, Technology, and Society Program

First Advisor

José Perillán

Second Advisor

James Challey

Abstract

In 2015, the Ugly Food Movement started by companies and campaigns to market and sell aesthetically suboptimal fruits and vegetables. The movement began in response to an increasingly visual culture in which many customers and retailers reject produce on the basis of visual cues and unrealistic expectations influenced by the media. In order to reestablish the value of imperfect produce, ugly food start-ups including Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods, and Hungry Harvest emerged to promote the fruits and vegetables others ignore and now deliver to many major metropolitan areas throughout the United States. These companies partner with growers and customers to expand access to fresh food at affordable prices, conveniently ship produce boxes to doorsteps, and reduce “ugly” food waste. However, the ripple effects of this millennial movement are far-reaching and complex. Food-justice advocates argue that these profit-based solutions are disingenuous and ill-equipped to combat food waste and inaccessibility. Instead, they may take away from local services such as Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. This thesis unpacks the context in which the movement sprouted and its national positionality. It argues that while the Ugly Food Movement has benefitted some farmers, executed exemplary marketing, and performed effective social outreach, it is limited. However, through fruitful and noncompetitive collaboration between local food communities and ugly food efforts, imperfection could feed more communities.

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