If you follow my instagram, you might have seen by now my posts showing my Fruta Feia basket but I wanted to share what is Fruta Feia here on the blog and why I believe so much in this project.
When I first heard about this project, I wanted to immediately sign up, an organization that strives to reduce food waste? I was in love!
Let me tell you all about it.
What is Fruta Feia?
In Portuguese, “fruta feia” means “ugly fruit”.
Fruta feia is a co-op where people can sign up and pick up a basket big or small, for 7€ or 3,5€ respectively, with fruits and vegetables that are slightly imperfect (blemished or bruised) and therefore can’t be sold in supermarkets.
From their website
The “Fruta Feia” co-op comes from the necessity to invert the tendency of fruit and vegetable normalization that has nothing to do with food quality and safety. This project aims to fight against a market inefficiency by creating an alternative market for “ugly” fruit and vegetables that can change the consumption patterns. The market that generates value to farmers and consumers and fights the waste of food and the resources used to produce it.
Every week, the baskets are available to pick up from 5 to 9pm, these extended hours are great to allow people who leave work later. There are several distribution points in the country, including Porto, Braga, and Lisbon, but you can check out the whole list here.
Their slogan is awesome, great for marketing: “pretty people eat ugly fruit”, it’s so good, isn’t it?
Why Fruta Feia?
I believe that we all need to reduce our food waste, not only it’s the best way to honor all the ingredients that our planet provides, it’s also cheaper.
Signing up for Fruta Feia helps you to contribute to the fight against food waste.
Since the Fruta Feia‘s website is nicely done, you can see how much food waste have you prevented until now – perfect for those of us who like metrics. This is the quantity of food waste that I avoid to this date (January 2020):
These types of initiatives need to be supported by consumers, so they can grow and expand to other places. Vote with your money.
And you’re eating seasonal fruit and vegetables which is also great to reduce your ecological footprint.
But why should I eat ugly fruit and vegetables?
Let’s talk a little bit about the “ugly” aspect of these fruits and vegetables, what you buy in a supermarket is sprayed to look prettier – I’m talking about those giant shiny apples, waxed to get your attention.
There are not a lot of studies around this theme to understand if the wax is bad for you, from what I’ve researched, it isn’t. It seems to be safe.
Nevertheless, the fact that a piece of fruit is pretty doesn’t make it healthier.
For those of us who have lived in the countryside, the produce that arrives from Fruta Feia seems like it could be from our family’s backyard.
Not only can they be bruised, but they’re also usually more ripe, ready to eat, sometimes that’s the reason why they end up in these baskets.
How Fruta Feia works
After signing up, at the time of your first collection, the employees of Fruta Feia explain everything but I’ll quickly summarize how it works.
Once a week, you’ll go to the collection point you’ve signed up for, you give your name and pay that week’s basket.
After paying, you can select one of the baskets that are on display and bring it home.
You need to bring your bags and if your basket has smaller fruit, like raspberries, bring a container to take them home.
That way, you’re also not using disposable containers!
You can’t choose what’s in the baskets, this helps me eat food that I wouldn’t normally eat, sometimes because of its price, other times because they’re not my favorite.
A different basket every week has helped me experiment a lot in the kitchen, see what I can do with these vegetables that I’m not a super fan of.
I do consider myself quite good at experimenting in the kitchen, but I still have tons to learn and some weeks the basket challenges me in a good way.
However, if there is something that you don’t like at all, you might decide to not pick up that basket, but what’s the fun in that?
I’m continually challenging myself! And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my experiments.
Pumpkin: not a vegetable that I particularly like but it’s pretty popular in Fruta Feia because it’s a popular vegetable in Portugal. I’ve made risotto, soup, pasta, and I already found a few recipes where I enjoyed eating pumpkin! I never bought it and experimented with it before “Fruta Feia“.
Having said that, if you really really don’t like something from the basket, you can give it, to your family or friends or even to other people who are picking up their “Fruta Feia“‘basket.
When you’re putting the contents in your bag, give it to the person who’s next to you. One day, I didn’t want lemons (my parents have too many in their backyard) and I offered lemons to a lady next to me and she ended up offering me potatoes because her family produced them! Everything ends up solving itself.
Classifying the basket
There’s also the ability to classify the week’s basket, with two parameters:
- Quality of the product
- Whether you’d like to receive the product more or fewer times
I can’t pick up this week’s basket, what do I do?
Until the end of Sunday, you can cancel the basket pickup without extra cost.
There’s also the possibility to pause for a certain period (like going on vacation) without losing your slot in the program.
I forgot to pick up my basket!
It happens to everyone and it already happened to me.
In Porto, Wednesday is the day to pick up the baskets but there was a week where it was a bank holiday the day before. In my mind, I thought it was Friday and only when trying to fall asleep (when I’m trying to fall asleep I always think about 50 things) I remembered it wasn’t Friday but Wednesday, Fruta Feia pick up day.
Fortunately, that food isn’t wasted and donated to institutions who will give it to those in need. Next week, I paid the 2 baskets, the one I forgot and the one from that specific week. It happens, c’est la vie! At least you know that food won’t be wasted.
Have I convinced you to sign up?
Now that I’ve laid out all the info for you, I hope I’ve inspired you to support this project. Any remaining questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
And don’t forget, pretty people eat ugly fruit 🙂
I don’t live in Portugal, what about me?
Although I did write this mostly for people who live in Portugal, I researched some alternatives in other countries to help you. I don’t know how they work as I never used any of these services that I will list here. Please do comment if you’ve tried any of these or know others in your country.