It’s almost officially springtime, and with traditional spring cleaning often comes an awareness that we have a whole lot of junk lying around. When you’re feeling ready to purge the excess from your life, consider how the conscientious mantra, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” can apply not only to those old ill-fitting clothes and unused sports equipment, but also to food waste. Today, we’ll take a look at the ways foodies are combating food waste and promoting sustainability while still enjoying great food!
What’s the problem with food waste?
Our parents scolded us for not cleaning our plates as kids, but on a large scale, the effects of food waste can turn out to be much more sinister than a full trash can. According to FeedingAmerica.org:
- An estimated 25 – 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed.
- When food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane—a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
- More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste (MSW).
According to recent reports, “Roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting “one third of all foodstuffs.” Wasted food is also the single biggest occupant in American landfills, the Environmental Protection Agency has found.” (The Atlantic)
One possible culprit? Ugly food. In the age of Intagrammed plates and Pinterest-worthy recipes, many consumers and producers alike are particularly aware of how aesthetically pleasing their food appears to themselves and others. Enter start-ups aimed at celebrating unfashionable ingredients, such as Imperfect Produce, an ugly produce delivery service in San Francisco that brings healthy-yet-homely produce to customers at an appetizing discount.
Read more about this topic of pretty-food bias—and how influential food industry hope to turn the trend around for the better (a trend of foodie Instagrams featuring stocks made from food scraps and omelettes made from leftovers, maybe?)—here.
Another benefit of reducing food waste is that it can help those in need.
Check out this video of a green bean farm in middle Tennessee that partnered with a Nashville-based food bank to fight community hunger:
Upcycling Food Waste Leads to Innovative Products
Creative food producers have taken to re-imagining byproducts and extra ingredients into truly inspired foods. At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, exhibitors showed off some inventive products such as CocoBurg (a vegan coconut jerky made from the cast-offs from producing coconut water), ReGrained bars (granola-type bars made from upcycled grains used in craft beer brewing), and Wize Monkey tea (an antioxidant-rich beverage made from the excess leaves pruned from coffee plants in the bean-harvesting off season).
Each of these products shows a dedication to rethink raw materials and how they can become usable ingredients, even if it means creating a new category in which to showcase their benefits.
People in other countries have embraced the concept of “nose to tail” cooking and eating for ages, so it’s encouraging that many foodies in the U.S. are catching up with the rest of the world in imaginative and delicious ways.
Go enjoy reuse, recycle, and re-imagine your favorite food inspirations this weekend—and be sure to share your discoveries with others!
Happy Foodie Friday!
And, of course, for something a little weird…
Speaking of recycling, it’s rare when we come across an original idea in advertising (perhaps one reason the novel story lines in Superbowl ads are so eagerly anticipated each year), but while we have gotten used to reusing familiar content in ads, nobody expects ad execs to recycle fictional campaigns.
Yet that’s just what the folks behind Heinz ketchup decided to do by running the “Pass the Heinz” campaign dreamed up by Mad Men’s lead character, Don Draper, in real life. Check out the story here, and watch the “original” pitch below.
(Sources: AdvertisingAge, The Atlantic, FeedingAmerica.org, FoodBusinessNews.net)