Eat the uglies!

Guest post from blogger and member of The Produce Box Kate Kelly



Earlier this summer I took a tour of an Eastern North Carolina cucumber farm. It was really interesting to learn how the farm works, from preparing the soil, planting, picking, boxing, and shipping out the cucumbers to processors who distribute them to grocers and food waste with the harvest left behind.

Size and shape matter

I was shocked to learn that 25% of cucumbers grown in the US do not reach the consumer because they have an imperfection that doesn’t impact the taste or quality! For example, they aren’t the “right” size, are curved, or have a blemish on the skin.

That’s right. Stores won’t buy cucumbers that aren’t straight because consumers see them as ugly! What a waste!

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) every year, more than one-third of the world’s food is never consumed–approximately 1.3 billion metric tons. That equals an estimated $1 TRILLION of food loss and waste globally each year (plus decomposing food is a significant contributor to global warming).

Eat the uglies! Help reduce food wasteThe Produce Box is doing it’s part to help reduce food waste and encourage customers to eat the uglies. They provide discounted boxes that contain bargain and blemished produce. Items that taste just as good

Eat The Uglies Stir-Fry Recipe

Eat the uglies! Help reduce food waste

We ended up using the bulk of our ugly produce for a delicious stir fry that my 11 yo made all by herself! And it was delicious! The beauty of a stir-fry is that you can customize it any way you want. I hate mushrooms and onions so I steer clear of them. I love a spicy kick, but not all of my kids do, so I will add spicy peppers/sriracha sauce to a small portion of the meal. I love to add asparagus, snow peas, and kohlrabi.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 red pepper, julienned
1 orange pepper, julienned
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned or cut into 1/8 inch rounds
1 – 2 pounds protein, cut into 1″ chunks (I used chicken thighs, but any type meat or tofu will work)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 bottle teriyaki stir-fry sauce (optional)


Chop your veggies and protein.

Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a wok or large sauté pan over a burner set to medium, add the chicken. Brown, but do not fully cook it (about 3 minutes, stirring to brown all sides). Add the carrots to the pan and about 1/3 of the bottle of sauce. Sauté for a few minutes until the carrots begin to soften, then add the peppers. Stir in a bit more sauce, sauté for 2-3 minutes before adding the zucchini and squash (or they will get soggy). Add the rest of the sauce, if desired. Turn up the heat to medium-high and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the chicken is fully cooked and veggies are al dente (or to your liking).

Serve immediately over rice or noodles and enjoy!


If you don’t want to use a store-bought stir-fry sauce you can make your own very easily. Many times I will just toss in some soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar with a splash of sriracha. I might add some Chinese Five Spice (ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns) for a little extra flavor, and if needed, stir in a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce.


  • Calories: 213
  • Sugar: 9.9g
  • Sodium: 1137mg
  • Fat: 5.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 16.1g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 23.9g
  • Cholesterol: 67mg


Tags: |