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A celebration of imperfection

Fruit and veg have become size 8 models. They all look identical, they all glisten, radiate and scream "look at me, I'm perfect". Following generations of comfortability with mass produced identicalness, we've forgotten about the vibrancy and dynamism that comes when we don't conform to drone like standards and expectations. Every living thing is different, evolution create a beautiful mash-up of mutations and surprises. Too often, a vast volume of fruit and veg is simply discarded, because the producers think we're too dainty and petite to handle true natural difference and uniqueness in the products we buy. Let's embrace fruit and veg with character, we have become scared of difference. Let's open our minds and cherish the unconventionals!

Photo of David Stocks

Written by

Be afraid, be very afraid.

(I propose a marketing plan to raise the awareness around this issue, de-stigmatise difference using the example of how we now celebrate people, who come in all shapes and sizes. Let's cut to the core of the production, supply chain issues responsible for this waste, and force change)

BUILDS FROM YOUR GREAT COMMENTS BELOW:
1 - Merchandising, next to the glamour mags!
Strategically position our merchandising next to the glamour magazines. Talk to the bigger issue of the pressure for perfection and difference being aligned to inadequacy. Take on the glamour and celebrity brands that exacerbate this, change opinions by grabbing attention when it matters.

2 - Spoof glamour mag - "perfection" = ordinary
Why not go one step further and create a magazine, in the style of Vogue/Glamour, where we seductively present our misshapen specimins, in alluring lighting, sensual poses, looking positively ravishing! Then juxtapose against "perfect" specimins, dully lit, high angle shots - looking distinctively ordinary

UPDATE - Why only merchandise next to the glamour mags in the retail environment? Why not also beauty salons... Beauty salons are not only environments where attendees spend a long time waiting around, but are also riddled with promotional materials that directly oppose what we're trying to achieve! 
This makes them perfect channels for tongue-in-cheek information leaflets/posters and even call-to-actions for 'most unique produce' competitions! Also, great places to really play up the human/fruit parallels. (great build Anuja)

3 - Tongue in cheek social media campaign
Create buzz online, short videos, funny stories where we show a down-at-heel "perfect" strawberry chatting to camera about how things used to be, flicking through the 'strawberry seeking..' personal ads, maybe online dating - but to no avail. Then cut to a fantastically veluctuous strawberry fending off handsome suiters, and saying "I'm not a piece of meat! Leave me alone" - I.e. the parameters of attractiveness have been completely re-defined  

4 - Target kids - change habits for life
Tap into natural childhood curiosity through initiatives in schools, create a child friendly brand etc - teach the bigger lessons about life and not being scared to be themselves and that unique is beautiful + brave - but through the touch point of fruit! Get kids to own the campaign, design the logo, create the mascot, run the website, vote on strategic direction. If they own the campaign, the deeper issues behind it will really begin to mean something to them.

--- UPDATE ---

BREAKING DOWN THE RESTAURANT BARRIER:

Phase 1 – Passionate celebrity involvement

Engage a celebrity to fight the good fight! Innovative to the point of being scientific, Heston Blumenthal could be a prime candidate. 

Empower him to lead a social media campaign on our behalf, coupled with mentions on TV talk shows, and even demonstrations of cooking “unconventional” specimens in his own cooking show - then running blindfold tests revealing the identicality of taste between visually “perfect” and “imperfect” ingredients.

Phase 2 – Avant guard restaurant to lead by example

Use this same celebrity advocate, and in this case Heston Blumenthal’s three Mitchelin starred restaurant, The Fat Duck - to publically demonstrate that restaurants need to change their approach to visual “imperfection” in their ingredients.

Whether as a one off publicity stunt, where only visually “imperfect” ingredients are used, and their taste value proven, or a blindfold test between visually “perfect” and “imperfect” specimens, this would be sure to grab attention.

Perhaps this could go even further. Could this restaurant promote a zero tolerance policy for visual discrimination? Demanding their suppliers follow suit, providing the visually “imperfect” ingredients, as and when they naturally appear.

To give the surrounding communications an impact quality, could we even play on the parallels with historical racial discrimination?

Mohammed Ali was unable to get served in high end US restaurants because of his ethnicity. We’ve stamped out discrimination in people, why should we stop there? Visual discrimination in all its manifestations is wrong and should be eliminated.

Concept builds

I've have tried to organically build updates into my concept explanation, but further builds will be entered here... Comment away and let's build it further!

What actions would need to be taken to turn this idea into a reality?

1 - Find a partner (Oliver / Blumenthal) 2 - Find a sponsor (Tesco / Birdseye) 3 - Launch a multi-channel dual toned awareness campaign (detail above) Tone A - tongue in cheek - In supermarket merchandising of mishapen fruit and surrounding comms - Spoof glamour mag, with the glamour mags / ads in other glamour mags (benefits of supermarket sponsor providing prime access to most effective communication positions) -Social media, viral videos, funny, edgy Tone B -Genuine and caring, but fun -Thorough promotion and re-education campaign for children in schools around equality in food and in each other

Who might make a good partner for this project?

Celebrity chefs (Jamie Oliver + Heston Blumenthal) Leaders who are not afraid to ask the difficult questions, with the charisma to mobilise the masses. Both of these individuals fit the bill.

What suggestions would you have for potential sources of funding for the development of this project?

This idea and corresponding campaign could resonate deeply with the very moral fiber of our cultures. An opportunity to become aligned with equality and re-framing our archaic definition of perfection is one many companies would pay for... From Tesco to BirdsEye, any value driven food company would benefit from becoming THE company to tackle discrimination in food, as a metaphor for society. UPDATE: LOUDSAUCE 'crowdfunded media buying for ideas that matter' The campaign could be partially funded by sponsorship, partly through LoudSauce. LoudSauce allows people to club together to fund causes they believe in. Our sponsor could fund the creative advertising cost, unless we could partner with an ad agency and ask them to work pro-bono for CSR PR. Then, as the campaign comes to life and gains a following, turn to LoudSauce and ask our followers to keep pushing the message through many, many tiny media buying donations. It sounds like a big ask, for people to fund advertising, I know. But check out some examples below... It seems to work: http://www.loudsauce.com/

Virtual team

The following people have helped develop my initial idea beyond its original scope, and I am very grateful to you all. Cory Quach Colin Cather Krassimira Lordanova Veronika Diego Gonzales Carvallo Cathy Tang Ronan Harrington Kirk Soderstrom And many, many more...

Evaluation results

16 evaluations so far

1. How effectively do you think that this concept reconnects food consumers and producers?

It would reconnect food consumers and producers strongly - 50%

It would somewhat reconnect food consumers and producers  - 31.3%

It would not significantly reconnect food consumers and producers  - 18.8%

2. How scalable is this idea across communities and geographies?

This concept can be scaled across many communities  - 62.5%

This concept will take a fair bit of work to build and scale - 25%

This concept is not particularly scalable  - 12.5%

3. How quickly could this concept be impactful? 

This concept could happen today - 25%

This concept could happen soon with some work - 75%

I struggle to see this happening in a reasonable timeframe - 0%

4. How original is this concept?

This concept is extremely original - 62.5%

This concept has some original aspects - 37.5%

This concept already exists - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

This concept rocked my world – it’s brilliant - 62.5%

I liked this concept but preferred others - 25%

This concept didn’t get me overly excited - 12.5%

108 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Tom Hulme

Hi David - I saw the following and it reminded me of your idea - it's incredibly close:

French supermarket chain Intermarche launched this promotional campaign to help reduce food waste of "undesirable" fruits and vegetables. Rather than throw out ugly, deformed, or damaged produce, Intermarche instead sells them with a unique twist.

http://www.wimp.com/allsupermarkets/

Photo of An Old Friend

Cool insight. Wish we had those types of forward thinking grocery chains in the U.S.

Photo of Mike

Agreed!

Photo of An Old Friend

Love the initiative to return to wholesome natural food! Awesome work.

Photo of Paul Bennett

Hi David: I ran the group that explored this idea at the workshop - we all really loved it as a concept. One build was to explore the idea of heirloom varietals - rather than just celebrating imperfection, celebrate food diversity. Perhaps there is a call to action, along the lines of "Australia, Time To Reclaim Your Heirlooms," that asks the nation to look more broadly at what "good" food looks and tastes like. Agree with your idea of using celebrity chef-dom to push this - here in Australia, Masterchef is huge, so a "Masterchef Heirloom Challenge" could be really exciting. Thanks so much for your passionate involvement in this - it's a really great concept.

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Paul, the ‘heirloom’ build is great.

It could also provide a bridge to ‘local’. I.e. Celebrate the food varieties of specific regions, and especially of your local region. Even if it’s a stretch, celebrate the fact that a Perth tomato may have it’s own character, a Queensland tomato quite another. If we can become familiar with our local ‘heirlooms’ it would discourage us from stealing other regions ‘heirlooms’. Like with football, you wouldn’t be seen wearing a Liverpool shirt in Manchester. (unless you’re fairly brave)

This may have to have a labelling / branding aspect to actually work, where food origin is clearly visible, but I think it fits nicely with other ‘local’ concepts like Ben Hall’s 'I am not from far away' label’

Cheers for the feedback

Photo of Louise Wilson

you could add in 'taste' competitions where you encourage people to understand how the different variety taste? There's one thing to have a tomato from Perth and one from Queensland but what are the benefits of each?? It all comes together with your imperfection idea.. just a different angle that could be included.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

a follow up of this could be for the advertising to create some contests, e.g. photos of the most "incredible" fruits or vegetables.
I like the idea of not only focusing on "imperfection" but also on variety and differences... what is perfection? who defines it?

Photo of Meena Kadri

Thought you all might be interested in this recent development I found on FastCompany today: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3032641/bad-looking-fruit-is-just-as-delicious-these-posters-celebrate-imperfect-produce

Photo of Fei Xin

I agree with your point, "Fruit and veg have become size 8 models. They all look identical, they all glisten, radiate and scream "look at me, I'm perfect". These describes is really attract people 's attention to read it, and want to know more informations about that. Thank you for your good idea.

Photo of Congmin Liang

It is an interesting article, and you have a great idea, which I really like. I like the way you said "Fruit and veg have become size 8 models. They all look identical, they all glisten, radiate and scream "look at me, I'm perfect"....... Every living thing is different, evolution create a beautiful mash-up of mutations and surprises." It is a really interesting point to catch people's eyes to read this article. Awesome idea. I am looking forward to see this idea goes in the future, and what other people's idea to build this idea stage.

Photo of An Old Friend

Original.

Photo of An Old Friend

I hope you laugh at the insight that I am about to write, but I also hope that it helps you think about the concept from a branding perspective.

Ignoring several details, part of Notorious BIG's success is due to his looks. He didn't fit the mold in terms of celebrity appearance, but the way he played that card was ingenious. It was as if he was saying, "ugly is the new beautiful." And he pulled it off. It is an interesting take in terms of defying convention, albeit from an entirely different industry and context.

Photo of David Stocks

As an avid Biggie fan as a teenager I’m with you on this one. Great analogy. Directly up against the handsome chap that was Tupac Shakur, he had now choice but to embrace his own uniqueness. He even made obesity cool!

The social media campaign above is intended to be edgy, could your insight take this further?

Could we have a misshaped gangster rapping strawberry, rapping about ‘being yoself’ and a downtrodden “perfect” strawberry being battle-rapped off the stage??? (Or maybe I'm getting carried away)

Photo of An Old Friend

Nah, not getting carried away! There's a lot we can learn...and it is fun to cartoonize this strawberry. (probably because we're not supposed to "play" with food...)

I think if we were to pull society's curtains back, we'd detect a subtle but persistent pattern. Dove (soap) created a hugely successful campaign without using super models.

Also, The "Got Milk" campaign was vastly different in many respects, but similar in that it encouraged people to think about something differently. There are several lessons that I am leaving out, but as a point of reference it may be useful. (http://www.gotmilk.com/)

As an extension of the campaign, there may even be a way to create a "Fugly" competition, where people can submit pictures of their weirdest fruits and vegetables. And yes, they would have to name the beast.

The idea also reminds me of Robbin WIlliams' character in Good Will Hunting, when he said, "People call these things imperfections, but they're not, aw, that's the good stuff."

I don't know if these comments are worth much, but I'm enjoying the conversation and hope others jump in!

Photo of David Stocks

They're worth a great deal, cheers Kirk. 'Got Milk' and 'Dove Real Beauty' both great examples of distruptive advertising, creating paradigm shifts in their categories.

A similar approach is absolutely required with this. I think that's why creating the parralel with perfection in society is so important, and in being edgy, disruptive and even a bit provocative in our communications.

Have you seen LoudSauce? It's a cool new ad funding model, where crowds fund ads they believe in... I could see that being a nice way to get some of our ideas out into the world and driving the social media/viral part of the campaign...

http://www.loudsauce.com/

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Wow Kirk..I must say, you really came up with some great analogous examples there (Biggie, Dove Real Beauty, etc.). I was already a believer in David's basic concept, but now I'm even more excited about the ways this can develop. Oh, and David, love how you've fleshed this out in so many directions.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I'm down for the Fugly is the New Beautiful Campaign. David, I love that you focus on photographing food in a different "light" (pun intended!). I think many plants have a very distinct personality or message, if captured correctly. I think consumers will totally see what they eat in a totally different way - excited!!!!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

The talk of photographing fruits and vegetables reminds me of Edward Weston's series of peppers ( http://www.masters-of-photography.com/W/weston/weston_pepper_number30_full.html ). It's a nice example of reinterpreting the shapes of food to give it new beauty.

Photo of An Old Friend

Now, this is ironic. http://www.designtaxi.com/article/101766/What-Designers-Can-Learn-From-Biggie-Smalls/

Photo of Cindy Bayley

awesome idea! I'm currently taking a course "Sociology of Natural Resources" in which I saw a small glimpse of the industrialization of the food system. I never even considered how the selection of perfect fruits and vegetables resonate with a deeper meaning of perfection and beauty. thank you for sharing your insights.

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Paul and Aleesha. Great builds. Love the idea of creating some kind of exposé style documentary, 'did you know' style presentation of the hidden truth behind our faked fruit and veg. Could add real authenticity, and a nice 'reason to believe' the evidence behind the issues.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

There was a trial done in USA by and NZ company COMPAC. The concept was that you could buy some fruit that tasted great then buy some more fruit and it tasted yuck! But you buy a mars bar and it will always taste like a mars bar. The tech is called IR (now old tech) that looked inside the fruit and graded it by flavor. The trial USA supermarket customer wasn’t told that the fruit had been graded by flavor but sales went up by a huge amount because every time they bought some fruit it was good, so they kept buying. The problem I guess to teach people not to buy by appearance and work out a “flavor rating system”.

Another good lesson for a customer to learn about is “out of season”. In the area of say citrus, as the fruit ripens there is a change in sugar/acid ratios. Pick too early and its yuck, pick too late and the fruit will perish very quickly (shelf life important). The process De-greening is where ethylene gas is applied to immature fruit (which is yuck remember), this process does not ripen the fruit, sugar/acid stays fairly much the same, it just pushes the chemical that makes green to the background and pulls the chemical that makes orange to the outer skin (= unripe fruit that looks ripe).

There is a huge amount of fruit that is dumped because of the appearance of skin that we peal and through away anyway, consistent product may provide customers the confidence to not buy by appearance.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I think that you should make this campaign into a documentary. Sourcing the farmers who supply produce for food chains like Woolworths and finding out what they are told the 'perfect specimen' is. what is the criteria? Finding out what happens to the produce that doesn't make the cut and showing exactly how much is wasted in the process of 'quality control'.The opinion of the farmer; is there are difference in quality? Interviewing scientists who can prove that there is no difference in taste or smell. Or psychologists and what motivates people to desire the perfect strawberry. And you could go into corporate offices and challenge them to change regulations and defy the stereotypical product.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I keep thinking about how a campaign like this would turn iconography on it's head. Think about basic symbols for all fruits and vegetables, These shapes are so ingrained in our minds that to even force ones self to imagine them differently is very difficult. Think about systematic ways that you can transition the audience into redefining these symbols, perhaps even creating an entire new symbol set to be used for grocery stores, packaging, etc.

This is a side note, completely off the topic but thought you ideators would like to know. I'm hanging out with my sister tonight and she completely reupholstered her cars middle arm rest console with re-used vintage couch fabric swatches!! zero waste, zero cost! It turned out flowery, and awesome.

Photo of Rodrigo Isasi

Brilliant! Love it or I must say Dove it!

real food, real life....you hit on a great insight!

Photo of Amy Saunders

I think it could be interesting to also market food in colours that we don't usually see on our shop shelves. You know carrots don't only come in orange, they can also be purple and white. Check out seed savers. It would spice up things a little and probably get kids more interested in good food. Cheers.
Great concept, good luck!

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Amy, maybe we could engage kids through turning the idea of 'playing with your food' on its head. Celebrating the diversity of colour and shape and using constructive play to encourage kids to experiment and create unique meals, food presentations, salads with narratives etc... Mishapen, interestingly coloured foods would be far more playful and engaging than processed, selected equivalents.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

I like the part about teaching kids. I think it will be interesting to explore how they imagine tomatoes, strawberries, apples, and how they associate "visual perfection" with "good taste".

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I am living in Tokyo at the moment. There are mostly only one kind of apples in the supermarkets which all have exactly the same size, color and shape. They look absolutely cloned and I found myself missing those quirky apples from Europe in different tastes, colors, sorts and sizes. To me, these apples here look completely artificial. Of course they aren´t but it is an interesting notion that I thought would fit well to your concept: Someone who is used to the imperfection, mistrusts perfection.
I don´t know if that can inspire you somehow but I thought it might be worth sharing.

Photo of David Stocks

That's really interesting. Especially looking how attitudes toward imperfection vary depending on your generation and age. Our parents and grandparents may be more used to and accepting of interesting/odd quirks in food, than kids today. Today's children are more likely to have lived in urban areas, and been surrounded mostly processed, or at least selected, foods. I think this highlights the importance of re-education and perception changing from a very early age.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

So simple, and yet so powerful. It is exciting to see an idea that immediately inspires without a need for fancy explanations. I wonder how this celebration of "as-is" would contrast against square watermelons? Look forward to seeing how this concept shapes up.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Folks were really salivating over this concept at the Ideas Festival in Queensland. They had a blast brainstorming public engagement angles – including a "Fugly is the New Pretty" Instagram campaign!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

I recently read about an artist selling strangely shaped fruit at a farmers market in Berlin. He called his collection of produce, "Mutatoes": http://www.swiss-miss.com/2007/07/mutatoes-a-proj.html

Also, in connection with your idea of shifting the perception of misshapen produce, you may want to check out the magazine Meat Paper: http://www.meatpaper.com/
It's a publication devoted to celebrating the culture surrounding all different kinds of meat. They take on meat from many different, interesting perspectives, much as you seem to be suggesting shifting the focal points around produce.

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Noella, love the "Mutatoes" project. The bigger and stranger they look the more I want to gobble them up!

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Hi David, congarts as being selected as a finalist. Want to share the following article with you- it might spur some additional ideas...http://www.good.is/post/two-charts-explaining-how-you-waste-food/

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks and great addition, another scary report I saw today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/may/12/food-waste-fao-report-security-poor?CMP=twt_gu

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks and great addition, another scary report I saw today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/may/12/food-waste-fao-report-security-poor?CMP=twt_gu

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Hi David - well done on a great idea. I think it's interesting to explore it through other senses, as well as visual / tactile...I used to own a brand called Burnt Sugar (crumbly fudge, uneven chunks) and we stretched the 'unrefined' (the sugar) into a celebration of unashamedness, with events like 'can't sing for toffee' to encourage singing-out-loud in all its glorious, exuberant imperfections.
How about the role that 'smell' could play a great part in promoting your concept, too?

Photo of David Stocks

Absolutely Colin, both smell and taste tests could be a big part of this. Blindfold the audience, show them that a 'mishapen' strawberry smells AND tastes better than a battery farmed, processed "perfect" equivalent, and we will prove our point

Photo of Cory Quach

This is actually really important in so many ways. I like the parallel that you draw between the emphasis we place on the perfection of foods with cultural discrimination. As an Asian-American who grew up in Texas I often experienced feeling embarrassed about how culturally different the foods my mom cooked were from the local Texas fare. For instance, when cooking foods like fish, many dishes are prepared using the whole fish, head and all. People often scoffed at the idea of it claiming it looked "gross". Instead, they preferred perfect cuts of fish or overly processed versions like fish sticks. As an adult, I have learned to embrace not only my own differences but the differences of the foods I eat. Your plan to teach kids to embrace imperfection can help so many children explore new food options while teaching them to appreciate differences.

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Cory, and bravo for putting your personal experiences in there. I absolutely agree, food is critical to social interactions between people. Presenting the right messages in food and food communications can only be a good thing.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Way to go on making the Shortlist on the Local Food Challenge! Selecting 20 concepts out of over 600 was a tough job and we're excited to have you move through to the Refinement Phase. You can get a low-down on how the phase works over on Field Notes: http://bit.ly/refine_lowdown

Basically over the next 10 days we'd like you to further fine-tune your idea. You might explore opportunities and challenges to implementation, visualise further, expand on engagement strategies or connect various dots and details that would assist bringing your concept into fruition.

If you hit the Update This button on the right of your post, you'll see we've added 5 new fields to help you refine: Concept Builds, Actions, Project Partners, Funding Sources and Virtual Team. Check them out and feel free to keep updating your post throughout the phase – based on feedback and collaboration with fellow OpenIDEATORS and your own ideating goodness!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great concept! Here's an example of the type of visuals you could target in your social media or glamour mag campaigns. http://www.thecoolist.com/mutato-by-uli-westphal/

(unfortunately, the artist's own website is not playing well with my computer this morning, so this is the best link I could find). When I saw this work, I thought it was so powerful - and I think adding humour and more information as per your concept would kick it to the next level.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is a great concept, David!
When thinking about perfect fruits, I immediately have this image in my mind of French tartelettes with a perfect strawberry on top. I think it would be nice to have products going along with your campaign, where those imperfect vegetables and fruits are obviously used and people can give it a try. As we all know, it is all just about setting it in scene, so why not coming up with a little siamese tartlette that celebrates the siamese strawberry on top. Because of the siamese shape, it can be sliced in two pieces easily and shared with someone special. Use the oh-so-ugly-part and turn it into something special.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

sorry, for posting this 4 times... something must have gone wrong here.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is a great concept, David!
When thinking about perfect fruits, I immediately have this image in my mind of French tartelettes with a perfect strawberry on top. I think it would be nice to have products going along with your campaign, where those imperfect vegetables and fruits are obviously used and people can give it a try. As we all know, it is all just about setting it in scene, so why not coming up with a little siamese tartlette that celebrates the siamese strawberry on top. Because of the siamese shape, it can be sliced in two pieces easily and shared with someone special. Use the oh-so-ugly-part and turn it into something special.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is a great concept, David!
When thinking about perfect fruits, I immediately have this image in my mind of French tartelettes with a perfect strawberry on top. I think it would be nice to have products going along with your campaign, where those imperfect vegetables and fruits are obviously used and people can give it a try. As we all know, it is all just about setting it in scene, so why not coming up with a little siamese tartlette that celebrates the siamese strawberry on top. Because of the siamese shape, it can be sliced in two pieces easily and shared with someone special.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is a great concept, David!
When thinking about perfect fruits, I immediately have this image in my mind of French tartelettes with a perfect strawberry on top. I think it would be nice to have products going along with your campaign, where those imperfect vegetables and fruits are obviously used and people can give it a try. As we all know, it is all just about setting it in scene, so why not coming up with a little siamese tartlette that celebrates the siamese strawberry on top. Because of the siamese shape, it can be sliced in two pieces easily and shared with someone special.

Photo of alfredo achecar

Just to add to the potential of this idea for waste reduction, supermarkets like Whole Foods always set up their shelving and displays with 2 extra items of whatever they are trying to sell as shoppers are less likely to pick up the last two items, as we tend to see them as the rejects or the defective ones

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Alfredo, interesting to look at the behavioral economics involved in supermarkets. Would be great to think about how we can implement some nudges of our own, to change perceptions and get people moving.

Photo of An Old Friend

I think this is a fantastic idea. There is great potential for the ideology to travel into other parts of life as well.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Hi David,
Fantastic concept, proposal & builds!
This reminds me, in certain respects, to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. The modeling agency for that campaign - Ben Barry Agency - is from Toronto (my hometown) and celebrates the 'authentic, realness' of beauty in a human respect..... somewhat akin to your concept and campaign ideas...

website for your perusal ...http://benbarry.com/

Stacy

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Stacy, completely agree.

I think where we can be unique is in being metaphorical, and tongue-in-cheek in communications. While Dove's 'real beauty' is a direct attack on the conventions of the beauty industry, ours can be more interesting.

We can use the same type of language, and make the same parallels, but we may be talking about a Siamese banana or a voluptuous strawberry. We never have to explicitly make that connection. Allowing the audience to create the connection (to the conflicts we all feel regarding human imperfection) and do the last 10% for us, it becomes collaborative and we can allow them to own and drive the campaign. (particularly useful for the social media execution mentioned in the concept)

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Fantastic concept... I grew up in a fruit growing region in country Queensland and our local grocer supplied all the imperfect produce from the local growers. It all tasted great, was cheap and locally produced.

It would be a great achievement to just spread this to major centres.

Photo of David Stocks

Absolutely Duncan, thanks for your post. Like the idea of simply extending the acceptance of imperfect fruit and veg from the country - to the big cities.

However, I feel like we might need to disrupt city dwellers habits and generate some buzz around the change to really get them onboard. I think the parallel with 'Dove real beauty' is a good one and aligning our cause with the celebration of human uniqueness, might just resonate culturally and get the attention we need.

Photo of Paul Fr

Cool... You should also mention that by using those imperfect fruits and veggies, the waste will be reduced !
This idea is definitely going to the right direction, EU parlement have recently allowed the sale of those mishaped product.
This weekend I saw some people in the market drawing on a heart shape patatoes... cute !

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

Great to hear that the EU is making it legal. This will dramatically reduce waste. Thanks for sharing this piece of info, Paul!

Photo of David Stocks

Yep, great addition. Thanks Paul. Glad legislation is moving in the right direction. Really though, the governing bodies should be making it an offense TO filter out produce that doesn't fit the "perfect" dimensions.

Obviously public opinion drives such change, hopefully concepts like this can get the ball rolling...

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Fantastic concept... I grew up in a fruit growing region in country Queensland and our local grocer supplied all the imperfect produce from the local growers. It all tasted great, was cheap and locally produced.

It would be a great achievement to just spread this to major centres.

Photo of Diego Gonzalez Carvallo

David,
Excellent point of view, this is a rocket concept, for many products in the market.
I have worked in two industries facing this concept.
Lumber: Why do we want to have clear wood? Why can’t doors have a nice sound knot? There is an amazing inefficient waste full process in the whole concept of clear wood. Why do we prefer a finger joint than a natural expression of wood?
Wine Industry: Why should all the wine taste the same? Why is it supposed that the best taste is similar to French wine, French oak etc.
It would be nice to explore how far this concept goes in history and society.
Isn’t a legacy of industrial revolution, were the product turned to be more important than the user that needed the product?

Photo of David Stocks

This is really interesting Diego. It's why what I'm trying to do here is dig into the societal issue, that we demand homogenised products.

Especially love your parallel between wood.

Whatever the category, our 'tidy-mindedness' and nervous/safe approach to the things we consume, is leading to huge amounts of waste. We need to re-condition ourselves, for a post mass-production era where uniqueness in our products is truly valued.

I think we're getting there. Look at Ford's shift from 'any colour as long as it's black' to the massive customisation/personalisation initiatives on their vehicles today, and even Nike ID.

Mainstream consumption is beginning to demand more, now is the perfect time for natural products to join the conversation - and create/meet that demand.

Photo of David Stocks

This is really interesting Diego. It's why what I'm trying to do here is dig into the societal issue, that we demand homogenised products.

Especially love your parallel between wood.

Whatever the category, our 'tidy-mindedness' and nervous/safe approach to the things we consume, is leading to huge amounts of waste. We need to re-condition ourselves, for a post mass-production era where uniqueness in our products is truly valued.

I think we're getting there. Look at Ford's shift from 'any colour as long as it's black' to the massive customisation/personalisation initiatives on their vehicles today, and even Nike ID.

Mainstream consumption is beginning to demand more, now is the perfect time for natural products to join the conversation - and create/meet that demand.

Photo of James McBennett

I went to a "Funky Vegetable" competition last year that was on in my college (London, UK), during our English Cultural Week. A prize was given to who could find the funkiest looking vegetable or most oversized. This was a regular competition held in English country villages.

Wasn't easy to find, as most of the supermarkets are standard, standard, standard. Some people made a real effort, and we found some pretty strange veg!

Like the comment below where the old English village fete becomes "America's next top vegetable'

Also interesting to say baby potatoes and baby tomatoes used to be waste until they were turned into a product themselves, interesting how these things shift.

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Great point, thanks James. Especially about creating new categories for previously wasted 'uniquenesses'

Photo of Lauren Dellaquila

Hi David! I didn't see this until after I submitted my concept, but they pair together pretty perfectly. I love the idea of changing attitudes regarding naturally grown 'imperfect' fruits and veggies. I would love your feedback on my concept (http://openideo.com/open/localfood/concepting/reinventing-promotional-displays/) which is more centered around in-store promotions through healthy/convenient recipe suggestions and cost control.

The cost of produce would be dramatically lowered by utilizing the imperfect produce (that you speak of) that would otherwise be thrown out or sent onto wholesalers.

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DeletedUser

We were just chatting about how it's natural to go after the most "perfect" product...when really it's not natural at ALL. Great thoughts to take the quality of the product back to it's roots, and educational for the masses.

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DeletedUser

Well done, David! This is a great idea with a lot of enthusiasm behind it.

I'd like to build on Miles' comment about restaurants because I think there's a great opportunity for restaurants to help shake us out of the 'perfect food perception'.

Many restaurants are already actively sourcing local and seasonal produce. Can they teach us about enjoying food that might be visually imperfect but taste-perfect? We eat with our eyes first, but food is where smell and taste win hands-down. Restaurants that celebrate the look of real food could help break down subconscious resistance to imperfect food. Combining restaurants to the ideas about ad campaigns, TV cooking shows, and children's education would cover many bases!

Photo of Johan Löfström

to follow your train-of-thought I would recommend an unconventional celebrity chef : Heston Blumenthal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heston_Blumenthal

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DeletedUser

Thanks Johan! Yes, Heston would be a good candidate. I think Jamie Oliver would also be a great advocate. And I've been impressed with how the MasterChef TV series in Australia focused on local market produce. They partnered with Coles for their in-studio fresh food, but often featured their contestants buying food in the markets. This show was a *big* hit across the country and I'd love to know how it has/will impact people's food habits and perceptions.

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Thank you Sarah and Johan, very valuable ideas. You will see your suggestions now worked into the update above.

I've gone for a 2 step process of creating buzz via chosen celebrity (in this case Heston Blumenthal, but Jamie Oliver also a great option) Then, pioneer the new approach - zero tolerance in discrimination against visual imperfection - in the celebrities restaurant.

This could then trickle down to other leading restaurants. No cutting edge restaurant wants to be seen to be behind the times afterall...

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DeletedUser

Another celebrity build: what about using strange looking vegetables as the "secret ingredient" in Iron Chef? Perhaps the chefs have to maintain some of their original shape or size in the final dish, e.g. stuffing oddly shaped peppers?

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DeletedUser

Another celebrity build: what about using strange looking vegetables as the "secret ingredient" in Iron Chef? Perhaps the chefs have to maintain some of their original shape or size in the final dish, e.g. stuffing oddly shaped peppers?

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DeletedUser

I always thought it was strange to see cooking shows where the chefs go into what looks like a grocery store to pick out really boring-looking food. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see them feel tomatoes, sniff fresh fruit, and pick fresh meat brought in by the best farmers and vendors?

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Thank you Anuja Singhal, concept now updated with your build. Hope you like it!

Photo of Krassimira Iordanova

David, wonderful concept! I posted an inspiration a couple of weeks back along these lines...I was shocked how much produce is wasted due to imperfect shape... http://openideo.com/open/localfood/inspiration/product-evaluation-does-the-shape-really-matter/

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Thanks Krassimira, great inspiration. 20-30% food wastage, simply due to appearance, is completely unacceptable!

Photo of Anuja Singhal

Love the idea of celebrating imperfection. . something that many people will be able to relate to. Also, this is one of those ideas that does something at a self-conscience level. Got undertones of doing something 'good' by accepting the imperfect. Also, the idea of merchandising in glam mags is great..an area that will attract just the right kind of audience..the urban, image conscious perfectionists. Taking the 'glamour' point a step forward...may be health and beauty salons could be an interesting place to market this? Just a thought. Cheers!

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Thanks Anuja, that's a nice build. If you go to a health and beauty salon I'm guessing you'd spend a fair amount of time there - in waiting rooms and while being beautified!

Perfect place therefore, to place tongue-in-cheek information leaflets, posters. Maybe even the call to action for 'most unique produce' competitions...

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DeletedUser

Excellent builds David! It was fun to read through the comment log and see how this concept has evolved. Also, I'm a big fan of your new word - veluctuous.

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DeletedUser

You can also make an on line add that invites people to assemble their "perfect woman/ man". Choose the nose, eyes, ears, meassures, etc that you would like for a mate and that seem perfect. The result of doing excercise will probably be a Frankenstein, it will be awfull!!

Then make a metaphor or an analogy with the food. If you don´t want you or your couple to look like this outside why do you choose to look this bad inside? Choose the real food.

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DeletedUser

Everuthing that comes fom nature and has not being intervened by man has its imperfections. I like this idea. You can celebrate "natural imperfection" which is perfect, not only on food but on objects made with natural (not processed) materials like wood or stone.

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DeletedUser

Brilliant idea. Imagine how exiting food shopping would be, especially with children, if the product was a little more unexpected.

We could begin to appreciate the organic process that is agriculture, and more importantly, the profligate method of supply currently used would be remedied. Splendid!

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Thanks Peter, great thought re the impact on food shopping. Just uploaded an additional image to support the idea of conflict between being 'imperfectly unique' versus 'perfectly ordinary'

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A big thanks to Cathy Tang, Chris Tobias, Jessica Lamb, Ronan Harrington and Sarah Fathallah. Your ideas now incorporated into the updated concept (the 4 executions detailed above) Take a look and do let me know any further tweaks!

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DeletedUser

As for issue #4, I think a great way would be to have an art contest for kids to represent unique food. A website for kids to submit their drawings/videos/ideas for the logo or mascot of the campaign. I know when I was a kid, I loved submitted drawings for the next book cover/cereal character/logo contest.

Maybe there could even be a tasting contest at schools, where children got to blindfold taste-test a "perfect" versus "unique" fruit, and pick the better tasting one. This could get kids involved and help break the stereotypes at a young age.

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks Jessica, that's a great idea. Allow kids to create the campaign itself (logo, mascot, run the website...) and I think they'll really start to believe in and own the deeper issues behind it.

If feels like we need 2 radically different approaches here:

Kids - educate to create and contribute

Start from scratch, limited preconceptions of perfection to break down, tap into their natural curiosity and desire to create.

Adults - RE-educate through disruption

Shock/surprise, break conventions/expectations with a creative/disruptive execution (e.g. 1-3 above), to redefine the way we think about perfection

Any more thoughts please do fire away!

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DeletedUser

I'm definitely with the few people who commented that this notion of perfection vs. imperfection goes well beyond food... I think what would happen as you scratch the surface on food items would be actually a reflection of a larger value set. Sexy "perfect" strawberries and other produce is just the grocery expression of a very widespread social delusion that we should all be perfect. What also turns up in grocery stores are the usual mags and rags about beauty tips, sex improvement, how to get "the look", etc. I'm keen to see how food could be yet another battleground in this context. Love the ideas and comments here.

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Thanks Chris, love the practical thoughts here. The supermarket provides the perfect environment / battleground for this debate. Maybe we could look at edgy merchandising solutions - to be strategically situated next to the glamour mags! Make people think not just when they're shopping for groceries, but also when they're engaging with the brands that directly oppose our message...

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DeletedUser

I love this idea. It turns the serious issue of organic versus genetically modified, local versus mass produced food into something that is fun, cheeky and most importantly, relatable. Everyone feels imperfect at some point in their lives, and this campaign provides an outlet for people to transform those feelings into something actionable by embracing imperfection in food.

How can we get people excited and involved? A few ideas...

- Online contest where people around the world submit photos and videos of the most unique vegetables they find, as well as evidence and descriptions of their eating said vegetable. I'm sure local media would be interested in interviewing winners and publicizing stories of how they found their prized produce.
- Publicize a few of the "imperfect" vegetables/fruits in local farmers' markets and organize field trips for kids to visit the markets and hunt for the most unique produce. This is a great opportunity to educate kids on the importance of local produce when they're in the field.
- Enlist local celebrity chefs to cook special meals featuring these vegetables/fruits
- Create a funny commercial with a celebrity who's passionate about locally sourced food. Maybe they can be waxing poetic about the object of their desire and it turns out to be a Siamese banana.
- Create a magazine spread that features Queensland's most unique produce in the style of Glamour/Vogue. Distribute online and at supporting supermarkets/restaurants.

I see this idea as the spark for a bigger community dialogue around our food choices. It'd be great to capitalize on the momentum from this campaign to elicit support from businesses, retailers and consumers to sourcing more local produce.

Photo of David Stocks

Thanks for the ideas Cathy, big help. As with Ronan's comment below, I love your idea of creating a funny commercial, or as Ronan suggested social media campaign. As you suggested, maybe a spoof Vogue/Glamour mag, showing our "unique", unconventional fruit and veg specimins seductively posing, emphasising their curves... We could juxtapose them next to "perfect fruit + veg specimins, presented under dull lighting, high angle shots, and looking very "ordinary". I absolutely agree that this has to trigger a bigger debate, but my personal view would be that this should be edgy, funny and tongue in cheek. If we get it right, and make people smile, they are sure to share.

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Cheers Ronan, excellent build. I love the cultural comment a social media campaign like that that would make. Feels very Dove ‘Real Beauty’, but with an edge. Not preachy, just making fun of conformity, perceptions of what someone/something “should” look like. I wonder if we could make light of the insecurities the pressure for perfection can create. Maybe feature a hugely misshapen strawberry chatting away about how he/she never used to get any dates – but now that’s all changing… Then cut to a stereotypically perfect strawberry, desperately hunting through the classified ads unable to find any demand for “perfection” from the male strawberries! Vis a vis our campaign is changing attitudes and providing a metaphor that could resonate culturally.

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DeletedUser

Well done mate. Very zeitgeisty. I'm wondering could you compliment the marketing campaign with a spoof social media campaign called 'America's next top vegetable' where people submit model pics of the strangest vegetable shape they come across with a supplier agreeing to mass produce that hybridized shape for a limited period.

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Thanks for your comments everybody, some great builds in there!

Cara, thanks for the legal insight. The fact that legal restrictions are no longer in place is great - However I feel the blockage is deeper, and rooted in our societal wide fear of difference and perception of the unconventional equating to danger. I think national PA campaigns can work, I think the UK Gov's effort to limit our salt intake are testiment to that.

Miles, good point, restaurants will be the most challenging distribution channel. Only certain types will ever feel comfortable presenting unconventional produce. However, successfully change perceptions in supermarket shoppers, maybe we will demand our restaurants follow suit. Re your scalability challenge - my plan would be, budget allowing, start big, change national perceptions, let the opportunities trickle down to local entrepreneurs.

Craig, secondary market for local fruit, great idea. Start niche, create the right brand, and as Delia said, maybe even charge a premium - talk about high flavour, enormity and character.

Finally Sarah, love your build. Target kids, change perceptions for life. Make their parents question their own self imposed food restrictions!

Thanks again everyone, any more, please do contribute.

Photo of Delia Kulukundis

I like this idea a lot. I also like Janet's comment about taste, and I think that a good approach is to emphasize the good qualities and not call it "imperfect" (implying that there is a "perfect" that is better). Maybe even try charging a premium for "high-flavor tomatoes," or "exotic enormous strawberries."

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Awesome idea, David! This could actually target kids very well, as they are much more curious than adults, and I'm sure there are ways of making this "imperfection discovery" very fun and instructive at the same time.

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DeletedUser

This might also be a great way to begin conversations on a whole range of other issues surrounding unconventional. Since we can so tangibly touch and feel fruit and veg, it is a great analogy to get young people thinking about norms and conventions. Great idea David!

Photo of Janet Gunter

I applauded! Along with the imperfection comes taste. I think it should be not just celebrating imperfection for "imperfection's sake" but actually bringing back emphasis on taste in produce. Just my 2 cents.

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DeletedUser

Hi David, I have cherished this idea for a long time. Lovely to see it here and your perfectly imperfect strawberry just made my mouth water:) Long live wabi-sabi! (the Japanese celebration of the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete)

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DeletedUser

Oh my my. As a child I used to be terrified of Siamese twin bananas, tomatoes with extra bumps on them... I'd scream if I accidentally picked one while shopping in the supermarket. well, um, I am still the same way, a little better now, but it's still there somewhere inside me. But I've always advocated loving people in all shapes and sizes. This is the first time I am empathizing with "love all vegetables" at least in theory. I don't know if my knee jerk fright will go. But I wouldn't mind if someone cut it up or juiced it for me. Lol.

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DeletedUser

Oh my my. As a child I used to be terrified of Siamese twin bananas, tomatoes with extra bumps on them... I'd scream if I accidentally picked one while shopping in the supermarket. well, um, I am still the same way, a little better now, but it's still there somewhere inside me. But I've always advocated loving people in all shapes and sizes. This is the first time I am empathizing with "love all vegetables" at least in theory. I don't know if my knee jerk fright will go. But I wouldn't mind if someone cut it up or juiced it for me. Lol.

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DeletedUser

Can we go beyond marketing and actually create a secondary market for "unpretty" fruit? Build demand outside the supermarket and let your marketing campaign have an avenue for consumption.

The "seconds" are many times thrown out, composted, or repurposed (how the original tiny carrots came about). Can we think of how we could actually bring the unfashionable to consumers that would be happy to have it?

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I think, in order to proceed with this, one needs to consider why produce has been standardized? I would love to here from grocery experts. I believe it may have to do with operations. Also on the restaurant side, who represent a large group of produce buyers, their menu may depend on consistent product. Perhaps this is what you are getting at, that we should be more accepting and flexible with our produce. I would like to challenge the scalability of such a project. Would love to hear thoughts.

Photo of Cara O'Shell

I really love this idea, and it should definitely be tied to bio-diversity. People need to be more comfortable with going outside their comfort zones and pick foods that don't just have iconic qualities (i.e. not just relying on one species of banana, etc. see http://bit.ly/19mACL).

I didn't realize until living in New Zealand, that the EU used to ban "ugly" fruit and vegetables from being imported. Luckily this has changed recently (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7723808.stm) but more needs to be done to change public opinion as well!

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Strawberries are my #1 favorite fruit. That huge one looks delicious =)

Photo of Louise Wilson

Hi David, great image for the concept! Really good idea and should definitely be implemented. Have you seen my concept on creating a community kitchen? It was suggested we use it to highlight food that doesn't necessarily look perfect. it would create a great build with you idea!

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Thanks Lilia, that looks like a great event. I love your agenda and I think it’s brilliant to look at the entire eco-system and find the blockages. It would be a nice experiment to speak to some of the suppliers you deal with, to find out how they deal with their ‘larger than life’, mutant produce currently… Imagine if we could create a vogue around unusual vegatables, create the perception that they’re in fact the MOST natural and with nothing to hide – their imperfections might even increase their value!

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DeletedUser

Great idea, David! We are running Food Day on October 24th this year, have a look at our web site: www.FoodDay.org. Celebration of imperfection could be one of the signature events around the country. Lilia