Earlier this summer I took a tour of an Eastern North Carolina cucumber farm. It was really interesting to learn how the farm works, from preparing the soil, planting, picking, boxing, and shipping out the cucumbers to processors who distribute them to grocers.
Size and shape matter
I was shocked to learn that 25% of cucumbers grown in the US do not reach the consumer because they have an imperfection that doesn't impact the taste or quality! For example, they aren't the “right” size, are curved, or have a blemish on the skin.
That's right. Stores won't buy cucumbers that aren't straight because consumers see them as ugly! What a waste!
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) every year, more than one-third of the world’s food is never consumed–approximately 1.3 billion metric tons. That equals an estimated $1 TRILLION of food loss and waste globally each year (plus decomposing food is a significant contributor to global warming).
The Produce Box is doing it's part to help reduce food waste and encourage customers to eat the uglies. They provide discounted boxes that contain bargain and blemished produce. Items that taste just as good as a “perfect” item, they just aren't as pretty.
The Produce Box is a fantastic service in North Carolina that provides boxes of fresh produce, meats, dairy, and bakery items directly from local farmers and other small business owners.
Each week there is a different selection, depending on what’s available and in season, and unlike a CSA, you choose exactly what, and how much, you want to purchase. It’s like a farmer’s market brought right to your door. (Want to become a member? Check it out here! Use my referral link and we will both receive a $10 credit!)
What do you get when you order a box of “uglies”? #ad See for yourself! In my Blemish Box from @theproducebox I received slightly off-colored peppers—that still tasted delicious; a little zucchini and yellow squash—small but yummy; some slightly misshapen apples—that tasted just as sweet as “normal” apples; some slightly bruised but succulent peaches; and (not pictured because my girls got to them before I did) some small but scrumptious ears of sweet corn; and a quart of small white potatoes that made amazing home fries (a specialty of my 15 yo).
Look #OnTheBlog soon to see what I created with this box of “ugly” produce. I can tell you it was delicious!
#foodstagram #foodblogger #foodie #eatlocal #instafood #instayum #instagood #foodpic #foodpics #hungry #yummy #nom #nomnom #healthy #LifeofaGinger #lifestyleblogger #bloggerlife #bloggerslife #LoveMyJob #ncblogger #triangleblogger #ncsocial #NorthCarolina #nc #bloggersofinsta #lifestyleblog #theproducebox #EatTheUglies
We ended up using the bulk of our ugly produce for a delicious stir fry that my 11 yo made all by herself! And it was delicious!
The beauty of a stir-fry is that you can customize it to your tastes. I hate mushrooms and onions so I steer clear of them. I love a spicy kick, but not all of my kids do, so I will add spicy peppers/sriracha sauce to a small portion of the meal.
Don't eat meat? Use tofu or leave out the protein all together. Need to keep your sodium low? Skip the bottled sauce and make your own.
And the best part? Once you chop up your veggies and protein it only takes a few minutes to cook.
Dinner in under 15 minutes
A stir-fry a perfect meal when you are in a hurry but need something filling. You can have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes.
If you prep the veggies ahead of time you will have dinner ready in a snap!
My youngest has soccer practice Tuesday nights and it can be difficult to get dinner ready before we have to leave. My husband is working in Wisconsin so I'm basically a single mom until November. I run around all day driving my girls to and from school/college, completing errands, and trying to get my work done before everyone is home and things get even more complicated.
Eat The Uglies Stir FryPrint
Eat The Uglies Stir-Fry
The beauty of a stir-fry is that you can customize it any way you want. I hate mushrooms and onions so I steer clear of them. I love a spicy kick, but not all of my kids do, so I will add spicy peppers/sriracha sauce to a small portion of the meal. I love to add asparagus, snow peas, and kohlrabi.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 15 mins
- Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
- Category: entree
- Method: stir-fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 red pepper, julienned
1 orange pepper, julienned
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned or cut into 1/8 inch rounds
1 – 2 pounds protein, cut into 1″ chunks (I used chicken thighs, but any type meat or tofu will work)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 bottle teriyaki stir-fry sauce (optional)
Chop your veggies and protein.
Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a wok or large sauté pan over a burner set to medium, add the chicken. Brown, but do not fully cook it (about 3 minutes, stirring to brown all sides). Add the carrots to the pan and about 1/3 of the bottle of sauce. Sauté for a few minutes until the carrots begin to soften, then add the peppers. Stir in a bit more sauce, sauté for 2-3 minutes before adding the zucchini and squash (or they will get soggy). Add the rest of the sauce, if desired. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the chicken is fully cooked and veggies are al dente (or to your liking).
Serve immediately over rice or noodles and enjoy!
If you don't want to use a store bought stir-fry sauce you can make your own very easily. Many times I will just toss in some soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar with a splash of sriracha. I might add some Chinese Five Spice (ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, szechuan peppercorns) for a little extra flavor, and if needed, stir in a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
- Calories: 213
- Sugar: 9.9g
- Sodium: 1137mg
- Fat: 5.9g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4.3g
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 16.1g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 23.9g
- Cholesterol: 67mg
Keywords: stir-fry, eat the uglies, vegetable stir-fry, chicken stir-fry
What are you doing to help reduce food waste? Encourage your family to eat the uglies!
Read my post here about the unique Ninja Cow Farm and how they are doing their part to eliminate food waste.