“Globally, we lose around $1 trillion per year on food that is wasted or lost.”
Did you know that everything from potato starch water to the leftover wheat from making beer can provide nutrients to millions, create jobs for underdeveloped economies, and help fight climate change? In the past, food scraps were trash that you made sure to get rid of. Now, bits that we’d normally look over are being reimagined into new and delicious meals.
A group of Experts from Harvard Law School, Drexel University, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, ReFED, and others officially defined “upcycled food” in 2020: “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.”
The Upcycled Food Association states that “Globally, we lose around $1 trillion per year on food that is wasted or lost.” If both the food industry and the public work together, we can not only save food that would otherwise sit in landfills, but we can also feed more people and save households money that would have gone to buying extra food.
There is another important benefit of upcycling food: the world is running out of agricultural land to grow food, and upcycling helps combat that problem by utilizing scraps from the food that is already being grown on current plots of land. The Upcycled Food Association agrees – they argue that “Upcycled food will help to feed a growing population without increasing deforestation or putting extra pressure on the environment.”
The Upcycled Food Association also notes that “8% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions come from food loss and waste.” Whole countries can lessen their footprint if the majority of a society can turn food upcycling into a daily habit. Food production uses tonnes of energy and water – resources that can be saved through this preservation method.
Upcycling is wonderful because it’s not just about eating the stalk on a head of broccoli – it’s about taking scraps and incorporating them into yummy recipes – with the goal being that as a society, we don’t see scraps in a negative light anymore – but a great addition to meals. The food we normally consider excess can add flavour, texture, and essential vitamins and minerals, improving our meals and health. If you’re trying to go minimum waste, food upcycling is a great addition to your routine.
Krista Swais-Hannesen Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, A Beautiful Life Magazine & Books