A group of Montreal university students hopes to cut down on wasted food by buying ugly, unwanted vegetables from farmers.

Such vegetables normally never make it to grocery store shelves, adding to the yearly amount of wasted food in Canada.

“We buy directly from producers in Quebec, helping them get better revenue for the produce and we bring it back to Montreal and sell it to consumers who want to try ugly fruits and vegetables for a 30 per cent bargain,” co-founder of Second Life Quentin Dumoulin told CTV News on Friday.

“They taste the exact same,” he explained. “They’re the same nutrient content. It’s just really the beauty stigma we’re applying to our food.”

Each week, the group rescues approximately 500 kilograms of outcast produce and sells it to consumers who have an appetite to help reduce food waste.

“If they’re usable, why throw them away? I like the idea of not wasting them and using them,” said a Second Life customer.

A growing movement

The idea of selling ugly produce is not a new one. It is part of a growing movement that has taken roots in parts of Europe.

Last year, French supermarket chain Intermarche launched a wildly successful campaign that put disfigured and discounted produce beside “perfect” items in its stores. The misfits flew off the shelves, and the chain sold, on average, 1,100 kilograms of ugly produce in each of their stores during the first two days of the campaign.

Canadian grocery stores are also jumping on the trend.

Earlier this year, Loblaws started selling bags of “Naturally Imperfect” apples and potatoes in select stores across Ontario and Quebec. The blemished, misshapen, or undersized produce cost up to 30 per cent less than other fruits and vegetables.

But for some customers, it’s not just the discounts that are drawing them in. They believe the less-than-picture perfect produce is more natural.

“It’s less suspicious when they look not so perfect, so I think it’s the better way,” said Caroline Galipeau.

With a report from CTV’s Vanessa Lee in Montreal