In a bid to bolster fresh produce prices, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is buying up surplus fruits and vegetables, and is now developing various ingenious ways of incorporating them into school lunch and breakfast menus.
So far, fifth- and sixth-grade taste testers around the country have been faced with Broccoli guacamole, sweet potato pancakes, and a raisin-tomato barbecue dip for chicken.
At Washington’s Van Ness Elementary School the most popular item to date, however, has been the prune burgers, made from a mixture of ground beef and 4% prune puree before being flame-broiled. About 40% less fatty than an all-beef burger, the dish got good reviews.
Regular school taste tests will eventually take place in seven regions of the US.
The USDA has recently been paying domestic farmers to destroy potato and sugar crops due to a glut in the local market, and last year the amount of cranberries that could be brought to market was sharply restricted.
A large glut in the amount of prune has meant that growers have been asked to story around 20,000 acres of plum trees.