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Andrea Morales Leal: Finding the Beauty in Imperfect Fruit

Andrea Morales Leal: Finding the Beauty in Imperfect Fruit

Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Andrea Morales Leal, in Monterrey, Mexico. Andrea is a Social Project Leader with the Millennium Campus Network, and the founder and CEO of Fruitprint Mexico (Las Disfrutas). Let’s see what she’s up to!

 

Spiffy: Welcome Andrea, I’m excited to interview you! Can you talk about what challenge you’re addressing? 

Andrea: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. I'm working on mitigating the waste of fruit. A lot of perfectly edible fruit is often thrown away because they are not uniform in color or size — like the apple that is not perfectly round. In general, our society adheres to a utopian paradigm of food and a system that generally prefers beauty over quality. Did you know that in one fruit packing plant in my city, around 800 tons of fruit are wasted?

Spiffy: 800 tons in one city plant? I had no idea! So what motivated you to try to tackle the wastage of fruit? It seems pretty daunting.

Andrea: Well, Spiffy, our production and consumption system isn't necessarily broken, because it works exactly as it was intended to be. But it needs to change. The system’s current beauty criteria idealize food, causing an alarming amount of waste that amounts to 644 million tons per year. Agricultural fields are subject to unrealistic standards in which 258 million tons of production are discarded due to visual imperfections. This is happening at the same time that two billion people in the world suffer from food insecurity. I couldn't bear to see these nutrients go to waste for an unreasonable justification.

Spiffy: So how are you taking action to create a more equitable world with less food waste? 

Andrea: I help reduce waste by re-introducing the “ugly fruit” to the consumer, along with an awareness campaign for fruits with the same inner quality and taste, but with physical flaws on the exterior. I also make healthy, no-sugar-added jams with these fruits, and invite the consumer to be the protagonist in reducing waste and changing their eating habits. 

Fruitprint (Las Disfrutas) Mexico’s orange jelly, in front of fruit that is considered unacceptable, according to aesthetic criteria. (Image courtesy of Andrea Morales Leal)

Spiffy: Can you tell me about a recent milestone that you have reached?

Andrea: Well, Spiffy, I have been able to raise awareness on responsible consumption without waste through our social media platform. Let's promote the consumption of fruits without retouching, without photoshop, without filters! I aim for people to see fruit as something NATURAL again.

Spiffy: Have you had any experiences when you faced failure and didn't give up? 

Andrea: Many fruit packing plants in my city closed their doors to this opportunity; they didn't see the problem within the system. You see, the food production and consumption systems function for capital means or market competence. But it represents an unmeasured loss of food that is simultaneously a waste of water, land, energy, labor, and capital resources. 

Spiffy: I have one more question for you, Andrea. What is something unexpected you've learned recently? 

Andrea: Not only have I learned about a problem in my community where both the system and the consumer are responsible when talking about food waste, but thanks to Millennium Fellowship, I have discovered some incredible things within my community. Now, I have more admiration for Mexican agriculture and producers that export internationally due to its quality. I have learned to view agriculture — and the process that takes food from the earth to people's tables — with much more respect.

Spiffy: It deserves our utmost respect! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, Andrea. It's been an honor! 

 

Andrea Morales Leal, founder and CEO of Fruitprint Mexico (Las Disfrutas), is a third-year psychology student at the University of Monterrey, Mexico, and a Social Project Leader in the Millennium Campus Network. Her passion focuses on one of the most ancient relationships in the world — humans, and food — a bond that accounts for psychological, nutritional, artistic, social, and environmental connections. (Nominated by Millennium Campus Network)