1. The supermarkets insist that consumers will only buy "good-looking" produce and therefore apply ridiculous cosmetic standards to fruit and vegetables, rejecting from their suppliers anything other than perfect specimens (Unless it suits them I notice. When certain products are in short supply they cynically lower the standards). Anything curved, too long, too short, too fat, too thin, or blemished in any way (i.e. "wonky") is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Allegedly.
2. People - ordinary people - throw away lots of perfectly edible food, mainly because they have lost the ability to judge when something is good or bad, and just chuck it away when it passes its artificial Use-By date. This system of Use-By dates is another invention of the supermarkets, I expect.
Quite apart from these two issues there is the wider issue of how the supermarkets treat their suppliers, which is quite frankly scandalously immoral. But then so is the fact that the UK discards 7 tonnes of perfectly serviceable clothing every 10 minutes. There is a certain type of person that thinks that wearing a garment only once is acceptable behaviour.
One of the things that demonstrated to me most clearly how determined are the supermarkets to resist seeing sense is the laughable "Comparitive trial" carried out by Morrisons, to determine whether consumers would buy the so-called Wonky Veg. They put Class 1 (perfect, firm and very fresh) courgettes next to Class 2 ("wonky" and evidently old and flaccid), in one of their shops. The Class 1 vegetables were loose so that the customer could select for themselves which ones to buy and how many. The Class 2 courgettes were in nets of 3, so that the customer could not choose. And the most ridiculous thing of all is that both classes were offered at the same price! Surprise, surprise, the consumers bought the Class 1 courgettes and rejected the Class 2 ones, thereby "demonstrating quite convincingly" that Wonky Veg are a waste of time, and to be avoided by the supermarkets at all costs. Who do they think they are kidding?
So what are we to do about all this? HFW's campaign is definitely a good thing, but will it go far enough? I notice that at the time of writing his campaign has attracted about 250,000 pledges" (pledges to avoid waste), but this is a very small number, considering that the population of the UK is about 64 million. The big supermarkets may not feel that there is enough consumer pressure to alter their ways. Nor indeed will the individual consumer feel that wearing the garment only once is wrong when it only costs a few pounds, despite the fact it has been made in a sweatshop in the Far East and shipped halfway round the world to be sold for a mere pittance.
You know what I think? I think this is an education issue. Many people just don't understand the effect their behaviour is having on our environment, our economy, and our personal wellbeing. Maybe we should introduce Environmental Science and Ethics, especially Business Ethics, as compulsory subjects on our school curriculums?
In the meantime, please do whatever you can to persuade (embarrass?) your local supermarket to stock the less-than-perfect fruit and veg, and wherever possible buy locally and support your local small businesses, even if you do have to pay a little more for your goods. I for one will continue to grow as much of our own veg as possible, and there won't be many rejects in our kitchen!