Purchasing ugly food can help you save money, but only if stores carry it

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MOORHEAD, Minn. (Valley News Live) : Stopping food waste and saving money is something many people could get behind. A Fargo-Moorhead group is trying to educate the public in purchasing ugly food.

So what is 'ugly food'? It's food that has the wrong visual appearance and is often not sold or even harvested even though it's still good to eat.

"When we talk about why people make their food decisions, a lot of times it boils down to cost and convince," said Ugly Food of the North co-founder Megan Myrdal.

Myrdal says the ugly food trend is growing across the nation along with the FM area. Grocery stores are starting to pick up the trend and sell misshapen or ugly food. Whole Foods along with a Pennsylvania grocery chain have started selling the products in stores.

The USDA uses grading standards of our food. Myrdal says most of the food you find in the supermarkets or at restaurants is grade 'A' food.

"Meaning that they are the right size and color, created on those standards. What will happen is if a farmer is growing a food that does not meet those standards, is it will get declared a lower grade product and will go to be canned or a frozen food. But sometimes because of the loss of grading it might not be worth it for the farmer to harvest that food," explained Myrdal.

Grocery stores can set their own standards and choose to buy whatever quality they wish.

"They are typically discounted around 25% to 50% of the retail price, so it creates a great opportunity to make sure that food isn't wasted to get whole nutritious food into the hands of consumers," said Myrdal.

Myrdal says she has heard from grocery stories saying that if their customers demand it then they will supply it. So if you don't mind that carrot with a crack or onion with a bruise, it could end up saving you money.

"Right now in our community we don't have places to consistently buy discounted fruits and vegetables but we are in conversation with a number of different retail outlets and different groups," explained Myrdal.

The group "Ugly Food of the North" has only been around since August of 2015. They held ugly food markets in the past and plan to do it in the future. They encourage their vendors to bring their ugly food to market and give it the opportunity to be purchased.

A way to get involved in the ugly food movement is coming up this weekend at the "NoMo Pop up Farmers Market" at Junkyard Brewing in Moorhead. The event is on Sunday (June 26,2016) from 2 - 6 p.m.

Ugly foods will also be sold at the Red River Market at the old Schumacher's Goodyear Building in Downtown Fargo (409 Broadway) starting in July. The event will run Saturday July 9th through October 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To see a list of Farmers Markets in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo, click on the links.