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Upcycled Foods
Valérie Dufort-Roy | Klish Way

A whopping 40% of food produced in the US will never be eaten. Some 240 billion pounds of produce goes unharvested or unsold, annually. The reasons are numerous: produce that are imperfect, misshaped, bruised or producers who are offered a price too low to offset harvest costs. Aside from the wasted food, 21% of the US fresh water supply is wasted producing food that will never be eaten. Uneaten food ends up in an incinerator, in animal-feed or in the landfill, where it faces anaerobic conditions generating methane-producing bacteria. If you are not convinced yet, another stat shows that 8% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is directly linked to human food waste. Looks like the perfect storm, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, a range of initiatives are attempting to rebalance the production chain involving upcycled foods. “Upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment” (Upcycled Food Association). It is about making our food chain sustainable, while increasing effectiveness by including upcycled foods: perfectly good for human consumption, but also possibly incorporated into pet food, cosmetics, and so on.

Below are a few upcycled food options that can be found locally or online:

• Barnana: upcycled plantain and banana snacks (Jimbo’s, Ralphs, Vons, Whole Foods Pantry).

• Pulp pantry: chips made out of vegetable and fruit pulps used for juices (pulppantry.com).

• Sir Kensington’s Vegan mayonnaise: using aquafaba, which is boiling water from chickpeas used to make hummus (Ralphs).

• Regrained: uses spent-grains as a byproduct of brewing beer to make granola bars and chips (Jimbo’s).

• Avocado Tea Co: from Temecula, tea made out of avocado leaves (Baker & Olive, Encinitas).

• Imperfect Foods: ugly produce subscription delivery, with produce mostly sourced in California.

Last year, the industry was worth about $47 billion, with an expected growth rate of 5% annually. Dole is the newest and largest player in the upcycled food industry, currently exploring product ideas to meet its Zero Waste commitment.
Eating plant-based food, driving an electric car, living near your workplace, composting, recycling, using solar energy, are all solutions that jointly reduce our impact on climate change. However, according to Project Drawdown, a global leader in quantifying climate change strategies, significantly reducing food waste is the number one solution that can positively impact the need for excess production and resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Ugly is trending!



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