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Hail-marked spinach hits grocer's shelves, with a norm-nudging label explaining the damage

Hail storms are unpredictable, often striking hyperlocally with unexpected force. When they descend on a field of leafy greens, the perforations caused by hailstones can render a harvest unsellable.

When a large-scale spinach producer in the Netherlands recently saw a potential harvest damaged by a spring storm, the country's main supermarket chain came to the rescue. Instead of rejecting the spinach because of its visual imperfections — standard practice in the grocery industry — Albert Heijn purchased and packaged the crop. The retailer added a label for shoppers, explaining that some of the spinach leaves had suffered hail damage, making them slightly less attractive but equally delicious.

Writing off crops for not meeting rigid aesthetic standards is a major cause of food waste. Supermarkets have conditioned consumers to expect perfection in fruits and vegetables. By implementing a simple act like Albert Heijn's stickers, they can now help reshape those norms, saving massive amounts of (im)perfectly good produce.

Spotted by: Liesbeth den Toom (hat-tip to Lucas Metsaars 🌱)