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The galia melons in the fruit bags this week are a fine example of how we save food from going to waste and farmers from going bust.
They were rejected by a packer (the guys who supply supermarkets) as they weren’t up to the required size. As a result the farmer in Spain, who already had to pay import duties and transport also had to pay for the melons to be disposed of after rejection. The farmer called Langridge Organics, the wholesaler that connects us with European farmers, who instantly thought of us as they knew we have a heart of gold (and a very flexible approach to cosmetic standards).
So this has prevented the grower having to waste his produce and meant he could see some small return for them as opposed to even more cost! We hope you enjoy those melons even more knowing they narrowly missed the landfill. The majority of our suppliers don't sell to supermarkets for this very reason and prefer to do business with small veg schemes like ours as we accept all their produce, regardless of size and shape (unless it's too big to fit in a bag, then we might draw the line there).
While it's great to help farmers out like this, and we do wherever we can, we are much more focused on system change rather than mopping up after supermarkets' wasteful ways. While food waste-oriented box schemes seem to be doing good, the farmers are still forced to sell their "rejects" for lower price, leaving farmers underpaid. This does nothing to help change the food waste problem that is embedded in the supermarket system.
The way we run the veg scheme and farmers' market means our farmers are not faced with the kind of dilemma this poor melon farmer had. Our system is based on good relationships with farmers, built on trust and transparency, where they're paid a decent price for all their quality produce, regardless of size or shape. Every retailer in our Better Food Traders network is comitted to this zero food waste approach as a core principle. Together we are moving beyond short-changing farmers for not delivering perfection, and instead rewarding them for all the wonderful, sometimes wonky, food they produce.