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Food is great. Most importantly, of course, it provides sustenance that’s necessary to live, but that’s not all. It also brings you joy, whether it’s because you’re eating something that pleases your tastebuds or because you chose to eat something that literally positively affects your mood. 

Food brings people together, gives us a chance to be creative, and allows us to experience other cultures. In other words, food is amazing and beautiful and all the other positive adjectives you can come up with.

That is why this list is so unique. Compiled from gems found on the Food in Places it Shouldn’t be Facebook group, it presents the worst feelings that food can illicit. It’s unsettling, it’s cringy, it’s not right. And once you scroll through it, you sure as heck will never see potato salad the same way again. Enjoy!


While the creations on this list are unappetizing and downright atrocious, ugly food is not always bad. Misshapen produce such as wonky-looking tomatoes and twisty carrots are a type of odd-looking food that is proudly wearing its ugliness badge. That is because ugly or imperfect produce is becoming trendy these days. 

It is all related to the amazing trend of opting for the more sustainable option. You see, grocery stores only accept produce that has a certain kind of look. Those are the guidelines set by the government. They have to be a certain size, a certain color, and a certain shape. Melons have to be perfectly round, tomatoes—perfectly red, and apples—all uniform in size.

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NapQueen
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Impressed with the cleanliness of this microwave (minus the chocolate marks from the escapee).....I'll give it 9/10.

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But what do you do with those that are too big, too small, too splotchy, or too wonky? Well, those are usually discarded. That is, in some cases, they might not even be collected and get left behind in the field. If they do get picked and still end up not being on par with the store's standards, they usually get thrown into a landfill. In any case, they become food waste.

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So, this is where new start-ups swoop in. They take these basically worthless vegetables and fruit that are still completely perfect for eating, repackage them, and sell them directly to consumers. And then those consumers (that instead of a car, choose public transportation and thrift instead of buying something off the fast fashion rack) take home a curved cucumber instead of a perfectly straight one. Everyone wins, right? Well, not everyone thinks so.

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arthbach
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"Never leave your baby alone to feed with a propped-up bottle and never leave them alone in bed with a bottle. They may choke on the milk." https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/advice/

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You see, the companies that set up these services that get the ugly produce straight to the consumer’s door always emphasize how great what they’re doing is. It’s so sustainable, so good for the planet. They’re proudly saying they’re saving all this perfectly good foodstuff that would otherwise go to waste. Some of them even offer to check how much water and carbon you save by opting for their services. Yet, according to crop scientist Sara Taber, it all has a little bit of that greenwashing tinge to it. 

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According to Taber, food waste was always a thing. It’s a natural consequence of selling fresh produce—items get damaged and discarded. However, unlike what some companies have you believe, they aren’t always just thrown out somewhere to rot. They are used in canned goods as well as processed and frozen foods. In other words, they are used in places where appearances don’t matter.

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Hawkmoon
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Given the time it took to make this, the level of commitment to the absurd is strong with this one.

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“I think these companies just found a good hustle that makes them look good and makes money,” claims Taber. “There’s nothing morally wrong with that, but to go out and say, ‘I’m saving the world and I’m fixing a food problem,’ when there are actually better solutions is really disingenuous. It’s just a profit-oriented solution.”

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Firstname Lastname
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

As a person who isn't big on chocolate, but is on ice cream, I've done this with that Thomas swirl bread and actually enjoyed it...

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Samantha Mannion
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Wow there must be a few of these at thrift stores I've seen pictures of at least 2 different ones the other is the set of both mustard and ketchup

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arthbach
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's a brilliant idea. A pizza is delivered the evening you move in. You don't have to cook, to find plates, knives etc.

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She also assures everyone that leaving some crops in the field is not that bad as it might sound at first. That is because it all eventually turns into organic matter that enriches the soil. Another popular use for ugly produce is feeding them to animals. After all, even cattle and pigs love to get some melons or peaches for lunch.

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So, should you buy ugly produce or not? Taber says it’s your choice. “If you’re buying ugly produce and it’s working for you, that’s fine. Keep doing it. Don’t feel guilty. That’s how food systems are supposed to work — it’s supposed to get what you want. But you should not feel obligated to buy ugly fruit because someone told you it’s going to save the world. It’s not. It’s just supporting someone’s business model.”

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All in all, buying ugly produce is not a silver bullet for food waste. There are way more deep-rooted issues in the system that won’t be solved by surface-level solutions. 

In any case, no one should put baked beans into a DVD case, banana peel, or straight onto their sheets. Not only is it disturbing, it is 100% avoidable food waste, and we can do better.

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Note: this post originally had 85 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.