Has our obsession with perfect fruit and veg gone too far?

In a world where our beauty standards extend to our grocery shopping, new farming technologies look to combat food waste by creating the perfect fruit and vegetables every time.

It's not a secret that our obsession with the perfect fruit and veg has gone too far. We all want our bananas unblemished, our carrots uncrooked and our tomatoes perfectly rouged. In turn, discarded 'ugly' fruit and veg is contributing to Australia's whopping 4 million tonnes of food waste every year.

While major food retailers, such as Coles and Woolworths, have partnered with food rescue organisations to offset the amount of unsold but edible produce left on their shelves, this still doesn't account for the food that never makes it to the store.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association, half of all food produced is wasted. This includes produce that fails to meet supermarkets' aesthetic standards, policing the size, shape, colour and general appearance of fruit and vegetables.

On the production side, a controversial indoor farming program run by electronics company Philips, is aiming to grow the perfect fruit and veg every time - but without sunlight. 

Watch this clip to see how the Philips indoor farm works: (post continues after video)

As explained in the latest season of Food Unwrapped, Philips is using LED lighting in place of sunlight to control the amount of nutritional value, taste and appearance of each crop.

While this technology is useful in parts of the world where sunlight is scarce and growing conditions can be tough (so, all of Northern Europe) there are other measures we can take at home to continue to support our farming industry. According to OzHarvest spokesperson, Fiona Nearn, the first step is to educate ourselves to help lower our own beauty standards!

"Helping people to truly understand what it takes to produce fresh fruit and veg is crucial. For example in Australia about 20 billion litres of water goes into fruit and veg processing alone, not to mention the land, resources, time, effort and money and then approximately half gets wasted just because it’s the wrong shape or size," she told Lifestyle.

While helping reduce food waste starts in your own home, Fiona says the responsibility really is on everyone.

"Food waste is firmly set on the global and national agenda with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goal of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2030. To make headway towards this goal requires a collaborative approach, major commitment and change from government, manufacturers, farmers, supermarkets, the hospitality industry and households."

Learn more about where our food comes from and what is really in it on Food Unwrapped, weeknights on Lifestyle FOOD at 7:30pm.

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