Waitrose must be delighted by the favourable publicity generated by its decision to put a small range of Grade II fruit on its shelves. Of course the idea of 'ugly fruit' was a straight lift from the National Trust. It came up with the original idea of running a nationwide competition to find the ugliest fruit or vegetable in the country to make the point that some of the tastiest and most interesting produce does not meet our large retailers' exacting cosmetic standards.

Waitrose is to be applauded for breaking ranks with the other supermarkets by admitting the possibility that consumers are now sufficiently disenchanted with beauty pageant fruit and vegetables to be open to something different. 

Our shelves are stacked high at this time of year, for example, with the attractive-looking but flavour-challenged cucumber-textured Elsanta strawberry. Supermarkets like them because they have a long shelf life. But their taste - to put it politely - is somewhere between slight and non-existent.

Perhaps Waitrose's jam strawberries will transport us back to the heady days when British strawberries had a captivating fragrance, if for no other reason than that they are picked when the fruit is properly ripe, unlike the immature berries supermarkets routinely sell.

In a sense though, Waitrose's initiative misses the point that 'ugly', irregular or slightly flawed produce should be the norm, not the exception. Rather than promoting more natural fruit and vegetables as a slightly eccentric 'boutique' line, why doesn't the chain - and all the others - apply the 'ugly' logic to the entirety of its sourcing?

This would mean tearing up the existing nitpicking specifications imposed on farmers, which are the horticultural equivalent of body fascism, and replacing them with criteria that actively encourage flavour, diversity of varieties and more natural, environmentally aware growing methods.

At a stroke this would release growers from the tyranny of using more pesticides than they want to in order to produce four cloned-looking pears that fit into a standard pack. And it would instantly regenerate the rural economy by no longer forcing growers to dump up to 50% of their crops.

And consumers? We can cope with an apple with a random bit of russetting or a forked carrot without throwing fits in the aisles. Honest.