Crooked vegetables: Do German farmers waste a lot of food by throwing them out?


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German farmers throw food in the fields – This is why farmers must throw away crooked vegetables in Germany. But do pimply or crooked vegetables and fruits have to be thrown away??

A spectacular case of supposed food waste? Tons of sweet potatoes, pumpkins and other vegetables are currently spread out in a field between the Cologne districts of Feldkassel and Merkenich. No one loves crooked vegetables in Germany?

crooked vegetables

Poor crooked vegetables

The asparagus and strawberry farm Fuchs sells the goods because they do not meet the standards of the supermarkets. But farmer Christian Fuchs says clearly: “This is not a special action, we allow it if people take it and watch.”

The farmer reports that he has to adhere to established standards, otherwise the vegetables will not be accepted by the large retail chains. “But I would like to say very clearly that it is not the trade that is to blame here, but the consumer,” says Fuchs. Crooked and too small sweet potatoes are not wanted by many customers in the supermarket, large chains would then not even buy the goods. “But that was decided by the customer,” said Fuchs.

Crooked vegetables as a waste product

According to the consumer advice center, 1.4 million tons of food end up in the garbage every year in German agriculture. And that while in other parts of the world one famine chases the next. These numbers don’t even include fruit and vegetable losses before harvest. Because according to the law, the fruits only count officially as food after harvest and are recorded in such statistics.

After the harvest, the fruit and vegetables are sorted. Specimens that farmers throw away inside

  • are, for example, too big, too long or too crooked and therefore do not fit into the transport boxes provided,
  • have small dots, scabs, scratches or other blemishes on the shell,
  • are available in excess and are no longer accepted.

For example, carrots should be eight inches long and one inch wide. So they fit exactly into the provided plastic trays. According to a random sample by the State Environment Agency of North Rhine-Westphalia, farmers disposed of the following quantities of all harvest yields for the reasons mentioned :

  • 25 percent of the potatoes
  • 21 percent of the carrots
  • 16 percent of the asparagus
  • 5 percent of strawberries
crooked vegetables

Why do farmers in Germany throw crooked vegetables away?

▶ A primary reason for the high level of food waste is the quality requirements set by manufacturers or the EU. 

▶ But the consumers themselves also play an important role: Since we are now so used to flawless fruit and vegetables, we may spurn products that are not perfect. And of course, what doesn’t sell, supermarkets don’t want to offer either.

▶ Overproduction can also mean that fruits and vegetables are stored too long in trading centers or supermarkets and begin to go moldy before they can be offered for sale. But even products that have only a few withered leaves have to be thrown in the trash when the next fresh delivery is just around the corner.

▶ What is surprising: With ecological agriculture, which actually works in a particularly resource-saving manner, farmers have to sort out even more fruit inside. Since they do without chemical-synthetic pesticides and genetic engineering, deformities (such as scabs) or pest infestation occur more often here.

crooked vegetables

Let’s save the crooked vegetables! This is what you can do that

If you want to fight against food waste, you can consciously save crooked vegetables from disposal or misuse:

  • For example, there are various vegetable crates that provide you with organic quality sorted fruits. The Etepetete box is particularly well-known .
  • You can also buy crooked vegetables at weekly markets and farm shops, but also in some organic shops and supermarkets. If you can’t find it in the assortment, you can ask and possibly even buy rejected goods for less money. This is often the case, for example, with very ripe bananas or withered lettuce leaves.


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