Mr. Potato Head is getting a reverse makeover, for a good cause.
Hasbro has created a “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” -- an ugly-vegetable version of the iconic toy -- to raise awareness about food waste, according to Toy News. The company partnered with U.K.-based grocery store chain Asda to auction off a single, limited-edition toy, and all proceeds will go to nonprofit FareShare, which is dedicated to redistributing surplus food to people in need.
A significant contributor to food waste is the high cosmetic standard for placing produce on grocery store shelves. An estimated 6 billion pounds of “ugly” but perfectly edible fruits and vegetables are tossed every year in the U.S., for being too knotty, small or otherwise misshapen to be sold in stores.
“It’s the taste, not the shape that counts,” Nicholls told Toy News. “We are always happy to give surplus wonky veg a home [...] and the charities can turn them into delicious meals for people in need.”
Food waste is a major challenge worldwide. In the United States alone, up to 40 percent of food goes uneaten, according to Natural Resources Defense Council. And almost 50 million Americans — or one in six people — live in households that struggle to afford food, according to Feeding America.
"Every [British pound] we raise will mean we can provide enough food to make four meals for vulnerable and hungry men, women and children here in the U.K.," Daniel Nicholls of FareShare told Toy News.
So far the eBay auction has raised 210 British pounds (about $280), and the bidding continues until July 3.
The “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” is part of the Walmart-owned Asda’s ongoing efforts to combat food waste. The grocery chain began selling boxes of imperfect vegetables earlier this year, according to the Guardian, offering a 30 percent discount for misshapen produce.
Walmart recently began an experimental campaign to sell ugly russet potatoes at some stores in the U.S., but activists want to see a broader effort from the retail giant, which is also the nation’s largest grocer.
To bid on “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” and help get surplus food to people in need, click here.
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CLARIFICATION: This story initially stated Walmart had no program to sell ugly produce in the U.S., based on information provided by the company. It has been updated to reflect Walmart’s recent efforts to sell some “ugly” produce. Language in the petition has also been updated.