by Christi Lazar @bazaarlazarr , Contributing Editor to www.UglyProduceisBeautiful.org
Hi, my name is Christi, and I was a contributor to the food waste problem in our country. “Bring me your chemically sprayed, overly shiny, and uncharacteristically clean produce,” was my operating motto for many years. If it wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t eat it. “Oh, there’s a brown spot on that apple? Please put it back!”
Shopping this way wasn’t done out of ignorance, I grew up on organic and natural foods. White bread was never allowed in our house, and I was the weirdo in school who had peanut butter that wasn’t a name brand. I guess you could say I knew better! But for me, food shopping had always been like online dating. A good profile picture goes a long way! It’s not until later that you find out the person on the other side of that picture is a total creeper! But once you realize things aren’t always as they appear, you take a closer look, and that’s where the journey begins.
When I started learning more about food processing and agricultural standards, I knew I needed to change. Shopping at local farmer’s markets and incorporating organic fruits and vegetables into my cooking, I discovered that imperfect produce tastes just as good as pretty produce, and that eye appeal has nothing to do with the ability to create something healthy, delicious, and beautiful!
Case in point the Maitake Mushroom aka Hen of the Woods. A couple of notes:
This ugly mushroom that I found wilting in the back corner of a produce bin turned into one of the most delicious slices of homemade pizza I’ve ever had! Check out my resulting Maitake Mushroom Pizza recipe! I spread a layer of ricotta cheese over the zucchini crust and sprinkled crushed red pepper over the top. Then I covered my layer of ricotta with Maitake mushroom pieces. I topped the whole thing off with crumbled goat cheese and Fontina, and baked it until the perfect level of melty-ness was achieved! My search for more ugly produce continues! Tune in next time for another harrowing tale of produce rescue turned delicious, healthy indulgence!
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