Team Members: Gary Burnett, Jane Coffrin, and Michelle Thomas
One fourth of produce is wasted before it reaches a grocery store due to visual imperfections. Meanwhile, 11.4% percent of households in Massachusetts are food insecure. And the food they have the hardest time providing for their families? Fruits and vegetables. Organizations like Food for Free and Boston Area Gleaners help to rescue this ugly produce and get it to households who need it. Recently, Whole Foods joined the cause and has started selling ugly produce in some California stores, if sales go well they will sell ugly produce in all locations. Many people don’t know about the existence of ugly produce and the waste that goes along with it. We want to raise awareness, as well as encourage the participation and sale of ugly produce through changing the stigma around it.
We created a custom 52-card deck to expose the high visual standards for produce given by the USDA. With this deck, we are targeting families with children. The deck includes instructions for 3 games that can be used with the cards. Memory, Go Fish, and Spoons were selected because they appeal to a larger age range of children as well as a matching as the component. Through testing we found that teenagers care less about the visual appearance of their produce than the adults in their lives. Children tend to grab the first apple they see, whereas their parents will sort through a pile of apples to find the most visually appealing one.
We started by showing our initial sketch (just a memory game) to Sam Liberty from the Emerson Game Lab. He suggested that we eliminate the factual text from the cards, as people are unlikely to read it while playing, and that we add the option to play other matching based games such as Go Fish and Rummy. From his suggestions we removed the text, only leaving the name of the fruit or vegetable on the card. We also increased the number of cards we had from 16 (8 pairs) to a full deck of cards 52 (13 sets of 4) providing one visually perfect item and 3 variations of its ugly counterparts. After we made these changes we met with the Green Team, a group of high schoolers, from Groundwork Somerville. We played Memory, Go Fish, and Spoons with them. Spoons was by far the favorite for these students, they enjoyed both playing and cheering their group members on once they had been eliminated. After playing with them, we found that: they liked the labels, they wanted a clearer distinction between the “perfect” produce and the “ugly” produce, and they wanted more information on how they could help. All of the students were surprised to learn that 26% percent of produce is wasted just do to visual appearance. From their comments, we have decided to include extra cards that provide more information such as facts and how they can help as well as added a golden border to distinguish the perfect and ugly produce.