The Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of the United Nations recently published critical findings on the troubling food waste epidemic. The research suggests that over one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste. If this food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the U.S.
Heavily linked to contributing to global warming and climate change, food loss and waste amount to an astonishing depletion of resources, including land, water, energy, and capital. The humanitarian impact is much more frightening with the FAO estimating that the production of food waste, equivalent to roughly 1.4 billion tons, is enough to feed as many as 2 billion people each year.
These troubling facts only skim the surface of a much broader, complex problem about the food system. Now, a few brands are pioneering creative solutions to combat food waste; hopefully inspiring other brands to follow suit.
1. Imperfect Produce
What's in a name? Well, for Imperfect Produce it's everything: the company sells imperfect produce or, "ugly" fruit and vegetables. The team behind this food delivery service discovered that approximately 20 percent of produce never leaves farms mainly due to cosmetic issues. Completely edible fruits and vegetables deemed "ugly" instead go to landfills or into livestock feed.
Sourcing directly from farms, customers have an opportunity to customize their delivery boxes to arrive straight to their doors. The base price for a small box of organic produce will cost between $15 and $17 for 7-9 lbs, about 30 less than what you'd pay at grocery stores.
2. Rubies in the Rubble
The discarded produce across London fruit and vegetable markets deeply troubled Rubies in the Rubble's founder, Jenny Dawson Costa. Learning that beautiful seasonal produce was headed to landfill she decided to do something about it.
Armed with a car trunk full of surplus produce and family recipes, this chutney making sustainable food brand was born. Taking ugly produce to the next level, Rubies in the Rubble sells ketchup, relishes, and mayonnaise all across the UK. The brand's spicy tomato relish and banana ketchup won a Great Taste Award in 2016.
3. Uglies Potato Chips
Potatoes, beets, radishes, and carrots are some of the most discarded produce. Ironically, potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables. But slightly blemished or potatoes that are too large or too small often get tossed because the USDA has strict guidelines regulating the appearance of potatoes.
These are the potatoes that make Uglies. Working with regional farmers, Uglies produces small-batch kettle cooked chips from salvaged taters in three flavors: original sea salt, salt & vinegar, and mesquite bbq.
4. Toast Ale
In the US, bread is the most wasted household food. But the waste doesn't end there. Bakeries and grocery stores dispose of day-old loaves to make way for new supplies of fresh bread. So what can one possibly do with a massive surplus of bread? Make beer, of course. With the addition of hops, yeast, and water, these unsold bread loaves are brewed to make Toast's award-winning brews.
Toast Ale not only tastes good, but the brand also does good. Toast Ale gives all profits to Feedback, an environmental charity championing to end food waste. Toast can be purchased in the US (currently NYC, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley) and all across the UK.
Turning imperfect bananas into the perfect energy snack has made Barnana the poster-brand for reducing food waste. The company's founder Caue Suplicy grew up in South America on chewy dried banana snacks. But they didn't exist in the U.S. market.
Suplicy began working with banana growers in Central and South America -- offering to take the bananas that supermarkets wouldn't. He set up dehydrating factories near the farms and now turns the bananas into energy bar replacements (they're loaded with potassium and complex carbs, perfect for all the triathlons Suplicy does). The fast-growing company also creates crackers and chips with bananas and plantains, a less-sweet sister fruit of the banana.
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