ARCTICAPPLES

If we forget about looks, could we keep GMOs at bay?

PHOTO: A Granny and Golden variety of the just-approved Arctic Apples.  | AP /Okanagan Specialty Fruits

Concerned consumers just lost a round in the battle to keep more GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) products from invading our food supply.

The FDA has given its approval to two new types of GMO crops, deeming them safe for consumption. What the pair — Arctic Apples, and Innate Potatoes (jeez, who comes up with these names?) have in their favor, according to a Daily Meal article, is that the Arctic Apples won’t brown and that neither they or this line of potatoes will bruise.

And that got me to thinking. A lot of the case for GMOS happens because we’ve got it in heads that our produce has to look as perfect as beauty queens.

Who doesn’t like to walk into the supermarket produce department and see the arrays of colors and everything stacked just so. But the quality of produce rests  in how it tastes, not how it looks.

And in the producers’ defense, when they have misshapen or unattractive fruits and veggies that taste just fine, those items often go to waste in the United States. Sometimes they wind up as soups or juices, but they often are just thrown out.

But elsewhere that has changed, according to a story last year from NPR. To combat food waste, supermarkets first in France and then elsewhere in Europe started the equivalent of the ugly produce aisle. What makes them attractive (pun intended) to shoppers? These fruits and veggies sell at a sizable discount. And you know what happened? At those prices  consumers are willing to forget looks and the not-so-pretty produce is selling very well. Also, people who ordinarily deem fresh produce beyond their budgets now are able to buy it. People are getting a good deal under these programs that strike a blow at food waste as well.

The movement has crossed the ocean, too. A Facebook friend just posted a story about how Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocer, is going to start selling its ugly produce at discount prices.

And you know what it’s first two types of produce will be? Apples and potatoes.

Now if we could just get a supermarket chain here in the United States to do the same …

NOTE: Updated to include link to Daily Meal story.