Uglier Fruit, Healthier Food

powderymilf3An open secret in the grocery business is that vast amounts of perfectly fine produce is thrown away every day because it does not conform to strict visual guidelines, or in other words, is unsellable. It could be a pear that’s too small, an apple that got bruised, or an overripe banana.

In a recent NPR piece, evidence is presented that blemished fruits may actually be richer in nutrients than their pretty counterparts. Their scars are evidence of hard fought battles against pests such as fungi or insects. The plant and fruit are stressed, and in order to ward off attacks, enlist the aid of antioxidants.

Flavonoids, phenolic acids, anthocyanins and carotenoids are all antioxidants that are produced in greater number by the plant to fight off pests. That’s why an ugly fruit may have up to 10 percent more antioxidants compared to its pretty counterpart.

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As a side note, organic produce may be considered more nutrient rich than conventional produce for these exact same reasons, having a much harder time fending off pests vs. the pesticide protection offered to conventional produce. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger…

Next time you’re at the produce section at the supermarket, remember, you’re not at a beauty pageant!


Source: Slatnar et al – Response of the phenylpropanoid pathway to Venturia inaequalis infection in maturing fruit of ‘Braeburn’ apple – Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology, 2010

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The 2010 Sustainability Conference financed by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund co-financed.