A little pear clung on for dear life as every sweeping gust was a harsh reminder of its fragile mortality. Paranoid its arse would plumpen too much, the little fruit sparingly suckled the goodness from its branch. With each suck, the little pear carefully lifted its rump high towards its neck, so as not to offer too much surface area for the damned wind to take hold and knock it from its nesting place. A branch across an altogether more regular pear laughed at the sight of the nip-tucked wee pear, cruelly pointing out how its body creased with every bend. The regular pears laughter bubbled so ferociously that the tip of its core upended itself and slipped oddly around its body to sit on its side as though a belly button. It stopped laughing infuriated by this new disfiguration. The wind wound itself up again and summoned a gust so true it clear knocked the two pears from their branches. They fell from the tree distorted and disgraced, not at all the picture of a pear we’d expect.

Photographic collage, female with misshapen pear | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

Height; five foot nine to six foot, hips thirty-three to thirty-five inches, waist twenty-two to twenty-six, bust somewhere between thirty-two and thirty-six inches. Boom there goes any aspiration of becoming a fashion model. Sue puffed out her cheeks then lifted her lip to check out her pegs. ‘Are there such things as teeth models?’ her mind whirred.

Photographic collage, female with misshapen pear | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

Two tomatoes sat next to one another too shy to talk. The smaller one, bashful of its appearance, blushed only further accentuating its cylindrical scars. The larger tomato had failed to notice, refusing to turn and flaunt the dark marking on its left side. Suddenly they were both overwhelmed by darkness, as a large shape dropped down before them. A booming voice filled the air, ‘Best budge up guys there’s a fucking ugly squash heading this way’. The plump tomato chirped up in response from out of the gloom, ‘What on earth are you?’ A voice squeaked back, as the new arrivals bass and volume in that instance was sapped, ‘Big, I’m just big.’ A third voice entered the fray, from distance away, with an Egyptian accent, ‘He’s a lettuce.’ The big tomato blinked confused, ‘and I presume you’re invisible!?’ Both the tomatoes laughed only to be cut dead in their tracks as their eyes became fond of the dark and could pick the shape of an oddly curved leek. ‘It’s perhaps not wise to ridicule another’s appearance when you too are in the ugly box!’ The leek quickly replied.

Photographic collage, female with misshapen tomato | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

Height; five foot eight to five eleven, hips thirty-three to thirty-five inches, waist twenty-two to twenty-six, bust somewhere between thirty-two and thirty-five inches, C cup. Bang! There’s our lingerie tigress! Paul closed the catalogue a sadness falling across his face. Any idea of finding himself a woman that measured up to that was preposterous. He ran his hands through his thinning hair before calling out across the cafe, ‘Another butty Sue if you please!?’ He scoffed and grabbed at his gut, ‘That one didn’t touch the sides!’

Photographic collage, female with misshapen tomato | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

The fashion industry has countlessly echoed its visions for the female form and submissive to their bombardment we have appropriations of what we find acceptable or more accurately what we expect to see. Trends have fluctuated as gracefully we have allowed her face to change – sometimes in favour of more angular, others a softer definition – but she has to be tall, she has to be thin and obviously perky. The pressure the media poses on women to measure up is cruel. Her dismemberment encouraged as legs, breasts and buttocks are used as objects of desire, leaving little room for the personality they prop up. Yawn! The sensationalisation of the female form is old news and we are either happy with this status quo or tired of protesting. In essence, we have to confess that the majority like the lioness gracing our glossy magazine to look like she does, simple and surprisingly the same rules apply to our fruit and veg. What! Absolutely we too are conditioned to consume only pretty things. Our apple and pear, cabbage and cauli are subjected to exactly the same expectations, the same discrimination as our beloved lady. We have ideas of how each and every fruit, every veg should look – a carrot; long and thin, Lettuce; perfectly green and about the size of a village green bowling ball, Apple; wow just try and get the shine off some of those babies!

Photographic collage, female with misshapen butternut squash | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

It is all absolutely absurd, like humans, these things grow so can’t be expected to follow a single form. Again this is something we are fully aware of but reluctant to change. We’ve been given the facts; 20-40% of the UK’s fruit and veg alone ends up wasted, ploughed back into the field, sent to a landfill or mulched up for animal feed. That set against the fact that 800 million people worldwide suffer from hunger and global reports state that our food waste would feed more than twice that number, surely the misshapen fruit and veg should be more readily available. Yes, it’s finding its way onto the shelf. Yes, you can find the odd run of ugly fruit and veg, but why have we been conditioned to expect a straight leek, an unblemished tomato? The majority of us lay next to a lesser form of the printed beauty we peruse and in return, they certainly lay next to very few ‘men’s health’ worthy six packs. That said in the world of food it is easier to settle for perfection, we have to go out of our way to find an odd squash or gigantic lettuce.

Photographic collage, female with misshapen leek | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

The revolution is under way but it’s slooow. Our retail giants are unwilling to significantly drop their standards, which only serves to hamper our choice. The industry relies on our instinctive behaviour, we naturally reach for the regular courgette just as we are drawn to the glossy pages and long legs. Fair enough! Some irregular vegetables are just damn awkward to peel and others don’t rest easily next to one another in a boiling pan. But glance in the mirror people, how are you measuring up to your editorial counterpart? We all court the figure of a model, we want it for ourselves and partners but in reality, when gliding our hands across one another’s body we sort out the less magnificent curves and folds. It’s just the reality and that’s beauty, that is human. So what is fruit? It’s as it grows, just like us. For too long we have had the luxury of having our fruit and veg hand picked, sorted with the ugly filtered out. We have grown used to the luxury of being served up the correct proportions, but have we considered what happens to the rest. Have we even acknowledged how things really grow? The curious shapes that are out there? Of course in the art of cooking, we aspire for perfection, we cater for the senses and through taste strive to reach the euphoria of the sexual climax, so do we really want to peel a deformed spud? Do we really want to taint our craft with something falling short of our expectation? Yes, you fuck because life is real.

Photographic collage, female with misshapen lettuce | Pic-nik: A conversation of food

Model: @aylarosemodel


Words From Ayla