Courgette farmers forced to throw away their crops

Only perfectly-shaped and coloured courgettes such as these are in demand, according to the couple

Two organic courgette growers in the Tarn and Garonne have protested that they are forced to throw away much of their crop due to consumer demand for perfectly-shaped and coloured veg.

Caroline and Cyril Roux, whose organic (biologique) farm is in Lafrançaise, complained that they must let hundreds of perfectly-edible yellow courgettes go to waste every week because the vegetables do not live up to the high standards of consumers, who, they allege, demand no green patches, no odd shapes, or any other defects.

Writing on Facebook on Sunday, the couple also included a photograph of a generous pile of their organic yellow courgettes, some of which are long and others a little more rounded, which the family say represents part of their crop to have been "rejected from the organic greengrocer's casting" of perfect yellow courgettes.

According to the Roux family, whose produce is grown without pesticides or other chemicals, the vegetables would otherwise be fine to eat.

The couple also said that they had donated some of the crop to the Red Cross, but that even they were not able to take on such a large amount. The courgettes only last around 10 days in a refrigerator before they are spoiled.

Each crop that is refused by greengrocers costs the farm around €5 000, the couple said.

They asked if consumers would consider the fact that, even when a vegetable is not perfect, it has been cared for and harvested by real people trying to make a living to support their family, and that the flavour of a less attractive vegetable is the same as other more attractive "top models".

Anyone who lives near the farm is invited to pick up their own share of the excess courgettes before they are spoiled.

The original post has now been shared by over 3 099 people at the time of writing, with over 4 100 social media reactions and almost 1 000 comments.

The family has been replying, thanking people for their support and responding to people's suggestions for what to do with the excess food.

Some have suggested that they sell the non-perfect veg to other organic food shops or to farmers' markets, but the couple has said that even these places often demand visually-perfect vegetables too.

The post comes some years after the 2014 "ugly vegetables" campaign (l'opération légumes moches), which was started in France in a bid to make consumers aware of the problems of demanding perfect-looking produce, and yet has appeared to make little significant difference in people's buying habits.

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