Fruits and vegetables that fail to conform to an aesthetic standard are labelled suboptimal and are often devalued and ultimately discarded. Although consumers perceive suboptimal produce negatively, little is known about how these perceptions are formed and indeed the socialisation process behind them. Using 11 focus group discussions with New Zealand children aged 5–11 years (N = 97), this study explores these socialisations. The results show that family practises around growing and repurposing suboptimal produce, learning about suboptimal produce waste, and acting on that knowledge when making produce choices, facilitates the acceptance of suboptimal produce. Alternatively, observations of parents' produce choice behaviours, and parents' instructions or norms for choosing, preparing, and eating produce socialise the rejection of suboptimal produce. The implications of the study show how environmental sustainability with respect to the food waste problem could be effectively addressed if public policy moves towards strategies that “normalise” suboptimal produce. The interventions recommended show how public campaigns would be more effective by targeting children, who are not only concerned about environmental sustainability, but also through their growing agency and positive pester‐power may influence households to reconsider how food is valued.