Why are we rejecting ‘ugly’ foods?

What's wrong about ugly foods that we cannot seem to accept? What do we actually know about it? Read on to find out more.

Why are we rejecting ‘ugly’ foods?

Why do 83% of Singaporeans only choose or consume food which are ‘attractive’ looking? Is it because ugly food isn’t instagrammable?


And since we are the pay-masters, supermarkets actually require local farmers to ensure that their fresh produce is of  a certain color, shape and size so that we will buy them.

So what happens to food that doesn’t meet these beauty standards? Well, most of them either get disposed of, or donated to charities and private organisations like UglyFoods who will then make sure these foods gets a second chance in life.

But here’s the golden question. Why do we even need organisations to “save” ugly foods? What if there’s nothing wrong with ugly foods in the first place and we have been wrong about it?

Let’s find out!

‘Ugly’ doesn’t mean spoilt

“Never judge a book by its cover”. This saying applies to everyone and everything.

But why do we judge in the first place? Easy, it is a human intuition. Our impression about anything is formed within the first 7 seconds of seeing it. Which means, once we take a look at an ugly food versus pretty looking food, we immediately form a preference for the pretty looking one.

Despite having little to no difference in its nutrient content, consumers feel that many people believe that pretty food is more natural and healthier.

That’s because we tend to connect natural beauty with what is healthy and good, and this can influence our perception that pretty food is also healthy. However, this association often mislead us into discarding ugly food.

It most definitely doesn’t help that we're bombarded with about 19 food and restaurant ads per day - that's almost 7,000 annually, that reminds us pretty food is better.

Contrary to what these ads tell us, ugly food may even be healthier than conventionally attractive fruits and vegetables. The fact is ugly food is actually just the result of factors like soil conditions, temperature, genetic variation, and pollination issues. It's completely safe to eat and it's important to remember that perfect-looking produce isn't always found in nature on its own.

That's what makes it natural. Because it hasn't been altered by humans or any other external influence.

‘Ugly’ doesn’t mean a waste of money.

In Singapore, people often expect perfection and value-for-money when it comes to their produce. Just take a look at all of us pressing or squeezing the fruits and vegetables during purchase, just to make sure we buy the “perfect” produce.

It is alarming to note that 30% of produce are destined for the bins every day because of how they look. Despite knowing that advertisments are out to paint the perfect picture, we still willingly allow it to bias our perceptions - companies and marketeers know it too.

One example of great marketing is the famous golden arches that is McDonald’s.

McDonald’s advertisements and menus have always showcased their food items to be perfectly shaped, well-colored and tasty. And naturally, that’s what we’re going to expect when we purchase a good ol’fashioned Big Mac.

So God forbids when we receive amisaligned Big Mac burger?


But, let's be honest, a senget Big Mac absolutely does not taste any different from a perfect one. So despite what everyone says, let’s make a mental note now that ‘ugly’ doesn’t mean ‘unhealthy’,‘spoiled’ or a ‘waste of money’. Taste and nutrition-wise, they are all the same, if not, better.

Ugly foods have been constantly rejected by society because of their appearance. But it is important to know that ugly foods are no different than the pretty looking ones.attractive looking foods.

So next time when you are grocery shopping, give the ugly ones a chance too.