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John Dziekan / MCT

Heirloom tomatoes, which often look more lumpy than round, helped usher in acceptance of “ugly produce,” expected to be a major food trend for 2014.

Now trending for 2014: Ugly produce

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 - 3:11 pm

Heirloom tomatoes and farmers markets opened the refrigerator door on a major trend for 2014: Ugly produce.

That’s according to JWT, the marketing communications giant. Wednesday, JWT released its ninth annual forecast of future food trends. Along with edible packaging (eat the wrapper, too) and silent restaurant meals (no cellphone or talking allowed), ugly produce will become more common in the year ahead, say JWT’s expert trendspotters.

Prompted by the farm-to-fork movement, this trend celebrates unusual looking vegetables and fruit. Instead of condemning lop-sided tomatoes or warty squash to the compost heap, these natural oddballs could be all the rage. Proclaimed as “Proudly Imperfect,” this gnarly produce is already gaining more appeal than its prettier counterparts commonly seen in supermarkets, reports JWT. Also on the ugly list are vegetables that look less than perfect even at their best, such as taro root and jicama, but are gaining in popularity along with continued interest in ethnic cuisines.

According to JWT, Europe is taking the lead in ugly produce as a way to reduce food waste by selling rather than discarding imperfect fruit and vegetables. Austrian chain Billa, for example, offers a private-label line of “nonconformist” produce dubbed “Wunderlinge,” a made-up word that combines the terms for “anomaly” and “miracle.” German retailer Edeka tested selling ugly produce at a discount, branded as “nobody is perfect.” Meanwhile, British magazine Delicious encourages readers to buy imperfect produce and speak out against regulations governing the appearance of produce sold in stores.

When it comes to produce, beauty really is only skin deep, say the Proudly Imperfect proponents. It’s the taste and freshness that counts.

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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