Is Hummus the Answer to the Global Food Waste Crisis?

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Is Hummus the Answer to the Global Food Waste Crisis?

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Raise your hand if you give a little cry as you scrape the bits left on your plate into the trash or compost bin. Or maybe you’ve driven around for an hour looking for a homeless person to take your leftovers. Food waste is a serious problem—not just for the hundreds of millions of hungry people across the globe, but also for your wallet and the stability of the climate. But if you’re Hannah McCollum of ChicP, a British startup, there’s one way to deal with all of those issues: hummus.

An estimated one-third of all food produced in the world goes uneaten. It’s a confounding number—leaving millions of hungry people without access to food and slashing could-be profits for struggling farmers and retailers.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States.”

But here in the U.S. a whopping 40 percent of food never gets eaten—instead, more than $165 billion worth of perfectly edible food sits in landfills every year.

“Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables,” and the NRDC notes wasted food is one of the leading contributors to methane gas, so a minimal decrease in food waste could result in a significant boon to the climate almost as a side-effect.

image/chicp

image/chicp

ChicP’s answer to this massively egregious issue—getting us to eat more food--may seem an insignificantly small dent in the problem. But she’s onto something.

McCollum’s ChicP uses ugly fruits and vegetables—those now slightly on-trend misshapen pieces of produce rejected by supermarkets because they lack the shape and shine of what we’ve come to perceive as “perfect” produce.

These rejects are often destined for landfills as farmers can rarely use what’s not purchased by wholesalers (a few do sell off the ugly lots to processors, or even at farmers markets, but most of it goes to waste). Swooping in and nabbing the uglies gives ChicP both a discounted ingredient and important talking points. And consumers are listening.

“All this really delicious food that doesn’t need to go to waste,” McCollum told Food Navigator, “it can be turned into something else.”

That something else is several flavors of savory hummus and a few sweet dips. ChicP is currently selling dips in five flavors: beetroot, horseradish (the original ugly vegetable?), and sage; carrot, ginger, and turmeric; herby; banana, avocado, and cacao; and banana, peanut butter, and cocoa.

McCollum says she chose hummus, because, really, who doesn’t love it? She says the hummus and dip market was flat, too, needing an edgy refresh.

“The lack of interesting, healthy, or sustainable dips or hummus on the market gave me the idea,” she told Food Navigator.

And she says she developed the flavors based on produce that can be sourced year round.

“So, big carrots, huge beetroots, and herbs, which are often oversized. Supermarkets will reject parsley that has stalks over ten centimeters,” she told Food Navigator, “My parsley is huge.”

ChicP products are currently available in the UK.

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