Circular economy Food Waste

Not grim enough?

Over the course of January, I was a part of a test round for a new produce delivery service called GRIM.

In Copenhagen, we’ve seen a rise in the companies offering household food box deliveries. GRIM, however, is different because the content of the box is comprised only of organic fruits and vegetables that are too big, small, blemished or strangely shaped for normal supermarket supply chains.

Before the first box arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. But to be honest, I missed the two-legged carrots and nobby apples of my rural childhood. These, for me, we’re a sign that nature had not been tampered with.

On January 4th, the box was delivered to my apartment. I immediately took a photo a placed it on Instagram (see photo below). People started to comment:

”Doesn’t look too grim”

”The sprouts look nicer than the ones in my shop”

“All the veggies look fine to me – not grim – they will taste good anyway!”

 Image result for afton Halloran ugly vegetable
Fast forward to today. I’m listening to a BBC Radio 4 programme called Thinking Allowed and the episode that I am listening to is about slum tourism in Mumbai. What struck me during the interview with a Melissa Nisbett, Senior Lecturer in Arts and Cultural Management at Kings College, London, was that she found that many white westerners viewed such tours as a positive experience. Like the comments in response to my Instagram post, the people paying for the slum tour were expecting to see something a lot grimmer.
As a part of my feedback to Carolin and Petra, the minds behind GRIM, I asked them to start providing an explanation of why the fruits and vegetables in the box did not make the cut. (Just in the same way that I would ask what drives people to live in slums in the first place?)
The GRIM girls took my advice, and in Week #2 of the test round a slip of paper was included in each box (see photo below). Unsurprisingly, it turns out that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some vegetables could not be sold to supermarkets and restaurants because they were too small, some were too hard to peel, some have marks on them and others were misshaped.
IMG_20180215_185339.jpg

Rather than stopping there, it’s important to note this tiny slip of paper tells a very significant story. Rather than seeing the contents of the GRIM box as “not that grim”, we must recognize the deeper issues at hand: something terribly rotten in our food system if a red cabbage is rejected because it is ‘too small’.

How the hell did we get to this point?!?

That, dear reader, I will save for another post.

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