food waste

How Ugly Emojis Are Helping Fight Food Waste

A Maryland-based start-up has launched the world’s first “ugly” fruit and veg emojis as a way to get consumers used to eating blemished produce.

by Phoebe Hurst
10 October 2016, 12:22pm

Photo courtesy Hungry Harvest.

As we realise that the world's gargantuan food waste problem isn't going anywhere, many initiatives have cropped up that attempt to make some sort of dent in the 7 million tonnes of food the UK throws away each year, from giant communal fridges to supermarkets stocked entirely with produce rescued from landfill.

One avenue that hasn't been explored in the name of cutting food waste, however, is that thumb-saving millennial communication method of choice: the emoji.

Until now, that is.

READ MORE: This London Restaurant Menu Is Written Entirely in Emojis

Hungry Harvest, a Maryland-based start-up that delivers imperfect fruit and vegetables to customers for a discounted price, has launched the world's first "ugly" produce emoji keyboard as a way to get consumers used to seeing blemished fruit and veg.

Featuring brown pears, twisted carrots, and misshapen strawberries, Hungry Harvest hopes that the keyboard will help users become more comfortable with eating produce that might not conform to traditional aesthetic standards, but tastes good nonetheless.

Director Ritesh Gupta told science blog ThinkProgress: "We've got 'perfect' fruits and veggies in our keyboards, why don't we yet have ones that have more personality, better express our feelings, and help bring awareness to some of the biggest issues of our time?"

Gupta may have a point. Even the most squashed-looking raspberry has more personality than the pigeon emoji.

READ MORE: Why It's 'Phenomenally Easy' to Solve the World's Food Waste Problem

Hungry Harvest is also petitioning Unicode, Apple, and Android to make ugly fruit and part of their standard emoji keyboards, arguing on its page that doing so would "help reach and empower the millions of people around the world who use emojis everyday in a fun yet meaningful way."

Best of luck to them. However unsavoury that bruised watermelon emoji may look, it can't be any uglier than an unsolicited eggplant in your DMs.