Aug 18, 2023

This Start

This World Food Day, October 16, spare a thought for ugly vegetables, the produce that does not end up on the shelves because it doesn't meet consumers’ expectations. Because in Israel a start-up has found a way to put these would-be veggie rejects to better use.

They could be too big, too crooked, or they might have all manner of unexplained lumps and bumps, but that doesn't make them any less tasty. These so-called ugly vegetables are often rejected for sale due to their imperfect appearance. Since the mid-2010s, they have benefited from rehabilitation campaigns in many supermarkets. Now, anti-waste apps like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market are also helping to restore their image. In Israel, a start-up is going even further and has decided to put these ugly vegetable to use in making ready-meals.

By recovering what the producers cannot sell, a company called Anina puts to use its patented technology to transform these raw material into ultra-thin slices. Everything is designed to preserve flavor and avoid the addition of colorants or other additives to the final product. Indeed, two years of experimentation were required to hone the start-up's techniques.

The vegetable strips are used as the basis for dishes enriched with protein, pasta, herbs, lentils or bulgur wheat. The meals take the form of visually striking capsules that can be heated in a few minutes in the microwave or on a stovetop. Three recipes have been developed. They are Italian, Mediterranean and Vietnamese inspired, and contain at least 40% vegetables. As well as upcycling ugly vegetables and reducing waste, the initiative also strives to make ready-meals more nutritionally valid.

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