The Message of the Ugly Strawberries

2013/36 - The Uglies

Mr. Andi showed up the other night with a giant crate full of strawberries – fresh, delicious, and best of all, FREE. A friend of his knows a farmer, and said farmer had brought him more strawberries than his family could possibly eat, so he gave us call. Now that satsumas are past their peak, I was desperate for some fruit that wasn’t an apple or a grape, and these strawberries fit the bill.

So how did we luck into a crate of free strawberries?

Because they were ugly. The crate was full of berries that didn’t quite measure up visually to the ones I had bought at Publix a few days earlier. They were oddly shaped, had lay on the ground too long, or were otherwise “imperfect,” like the one in the photo above. Those strawberries couldn’t be sold, because people don’t want the uglies.

Those ugly strawberries tasted no less sweet and were no less fresh than the ones I bought at the store – in fact, they were actually better. Mr. Andi carefully washed and trimmed them, and we all devoured them, laughing crudely at how this one or that one was shaped liked a butt.

Someone else’s loss; our gain.

It dawned on me that The World of the Ugly Strawberries is much like our society today. People want perfect. People want beautiful. People want sterile.

Of course, the perfect strawberry is an illusion. The grocery store strawberry will rot, just like the ugly strawberry. It won’t always be beautiful and red and juicy. In fact, it may never be as fresh and juicy as the discarded strawberry shaped like a butt.

And so it is with people. Much of society turns it back on the odd, the deformed, those who’ve been around a little too long, and all of the other people who don’t fit the mold. What a shame.



I scribbled down the skeleton of this post on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday evening, I received the following anonymous message (I’m pretty sure “jonny tardy” isn’t the individual’s real name):

Subject: you are a threat to america

Comment: stop attacking free speech you idiot. and stop having kids your not good at having healthy ones

I presume “jonny” takes issue with my desire to drop the r-word from casual speech? Anywho…I don’t usually share the nasty emails, and it’s rare for me to delete a nasty comment (I’d rather people see my response to them, even if the anonymous individual never does). But for some reason, on a whim, I posted it on my personal Facebook page.

The response was swift, immediate, and if I’m being honest, a bit overwhelming. I couldn’t help but think about how “jonny” seems to have accepted that all “strawberries” should be perfect – that the “ugly strawberries” shouldn’t exist, when all the while his own strawberry is rotting from within. Yet all of those friends and family who reacted with disgust and anger and encouragement for me showed me that there are many people who love an ugly strawberry! If his goal was to hurt me or discourage me from posting, he failed – I make it a habit to never listen to people who aren’t saying anything. In fact, his seventeen-word attack actually did the opposite – I went to bed last night feeling loved and appreciated for what I write here.

So I said a little prayer for “jonny” that his heart will be softened just a bit.


  1. Jennifer says

    I’m so proud to be your sister, and dare I say, friend! Your blog has made me think a littler harder about the things I say and do and look at the world in a much different, more positive (I think) way. Thank you!!

  2. Ann-Marie says

    I am with Jennifer – proud to call you a sister and count you amongst my friends! Each one of us is an ugly strawberry in some way shape or form. Keep sharing the stories about your “double dose of special” it is making the worls better place!

  3. Gina says

    Similarly to the rest of the commenters, I too am so honored to call you a sister. I look forward to reading these posts – they’re a highlight of my days, really. You make me look at the world through a different lens. Thank you Andi!

  4. Bill McCarthy says

    Dear Andi
    You are such a gracious person. You responded to the e-mail as Jesus would have you do – rather than respond in anger, you prayed for that person. It is such a privlege knowing you through your blog, which I really enjoy, and am so often inspired by your honesty and genuine insights. I just got back home at midnight after a long plane flight and drive home, but I really felt in my heart that I wanted to commend you for your true spirit of Christ.

    Bill McCarthy
    PS – I love your strawberry analogy!

  5. says

    I came to your blog through Love That Max’s link-up. I guess Johnny would have the same thing to say to me: I have one child with autism, another with ADHD/SPD/Tourettes and another with cancer! Special children – and special people – are a part of this world, and I consider it an honor and a noble work to care for them!

  6. says

    Great post! I would much rather be an ugly strawberry on the outside than on the inside. Your post was so positive and upbeat and I can’t wait to share it with my family the next time we eat strawberries. Thanks for sharing!