Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford is holding an online launch for her new book, Ugly Food, on April 14. (Photo courtesy Amber Stone)

Nanaimo author sympathizes with misshapen produce in new children’s book

Lindsay Ford covers food waste, rejection and perfectionism in ‘Ugly Food’

Lindsay Ford’s latest book examines issues of food waste, environmentalism and self-esteem, all through the eyes of unwanted produce.

The Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator said when she goes to the grocery store she feels for the imperfect fruits and vegetables that go unclaimed in favour of their picture-perfect counterparts.

“You just see the pile of perfect apples and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, fabulous, these are perfect apples,’ and then you see the banged-up ones and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, that’s no good,’” Ford said. “That’s commonly what you see … day-to-day or I personally experience, anyway. You don’t go for the one that’s slightly different looking.”

Ford’s new book Ugly Food is about produce “looking for love” and asks “if they had a voice, what would they say?” The book follows the misshapen food’s journey and looks at the decisions that are made when its blemishes are noticed and what those imperfections mean for its future and ultimate destination.

Due to COVID-19 precautions keeping people indoors, Ford is holding a virtual book launch and reading for Ugly Food on her Facebook page on April 14. The pandemic has also prompted a separate project designing book covers parodying The Berenstain Bears children’s book series. Titles include The Quarantine Bears Learn About Hoarding and The Quarantine Bears Put Hearts in Windows.

Ugly Food is the fourth installment of Ford’s Awkward and Awesome series, which tackles “hot button topics” while celebrating weirdness.

“Not only are there issues of food waste and environmentalism – higher levels of conversation there – it’s just conversations with food, kids learning about food [and] where it comes from,” Ford said. “Just because it looks a bit different doesn’t mean it tastes any different. It’s just as good for you as anything else.”

Ford said it’s important to discuss issues around perfectionism and rejection with children and explain that they’re not alone in experiencing those feelings. She said, like fruit, “we have bumps and bruises … no one’s perfect.”

“Kids if anything need to build up confidence and the only way you do that is by working on being rejected. And we’re all going to be rejected numerous times in our lives,” she said, later adding that she’s had to overcome her own issues with perfectionism.

“If I were still struggling along with my perfection, I would never have finished the book,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … Ugly Food online book launch on Tuesday, April 14 at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. at

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