Pareidolia is the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. And we've known about it for quite a while.
Leonardo da Vinci, for example, described seeing characters in natural markings on stone walls, which he believed could help inspire his artworks. And in the 1950s, the Bank of Canada had to withdraw a series of banknotes because people saw a grinning devil leaping from the curls of the Queen's hair.
However, pareidolia can be really fun, too. Just look at this list of photos from Bored Panda. At first glance, it looks like a seemingly casual batch of veggies and fruits. But a closer examination will reveal they have "become" something else. Enjoy!
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Sometimes, an abnormal look can make fruits and veggies land in the bin. Of course, food waste exists across the food supply chain due to pests and mold, poor climate control, and household waste, but imperfect produce is often turned away by grocery stores for not meeting strict cosmetic standards as well, making up around 40% of total food waste.
Philip Behn, the CEO of Imperfect Foods, a company that is on a mission to eliminate food waste, told Forbes that there are many reasons this could happen: "It could be a small quirk in appearance based on shape, size, or color that has no impact on flavor or nutrition. Beyond produce, perfectly good grocery items often go to waste for similarly illogical reasons. Grocers won't purchase or stock goods that are close to expiration or going through packaging changes, regardless of quality."
The Evolved Radish
Reducing food loss has been identified as one of the most effective ways to improve food security – an increasingly important challenge as the global population continues to grow. Plus, food waste also hugely contributes to global warming and our carbon footprint.
But ugly food is fighting back. More and more companies are selling ugly produce and using it in their products, reversing the fate of discarded monstrosities to delicious, perfectly edible, and nutritious food.
The ugly produce movement also has the potential to pass lower prices onto customers.
So if you stumble upon a radish that resembles a foot — buy it. You'll be doing your part.