You’re not the only one who’s picky about produce. Because grocery stores and many food companies only accept “pretty” fruits and vegetables, about 1/3 of the food produced in the world goes uneaten annually. Americans alone waste a pound of food per person each day, according to a recent analysis published in PLOS One.
If you’re feeling guilty, take a deep breath. We’ve all tossed out limp carrots we forgot about in the bottom of the crisper drawer. So first, try a few simple tips to cut down on your food waste and save money while you’re at it.
Second, some food companies are doing their part to cut down on food waste. The ones below collect discarded produce that’s perfectly nutritious and tasty but not pretty, scraps leftover from making things like baby carrots and other otherwise trashed ingredients. Then they turn these into new, delicious drinks and foods that are pretty healthy, too.
Try a few of these and you may change how you look at produce the next time you grocery shop.
This company takes blemished, dented, discolored American watermelons that are otherwise discarded to make its juice. And, after using 99% of the entire melon for its products, the company recycles the melon skin into livestock feed. Each flavor is a natural source of potassium, vitamin C and lycopene.
How about a little beer in your granola bar? OK, not really. ReGrained collects leftover grain from local urban breweries in San Francisco. They turn this into the SuperGrain flour that is the base of their bars. The brewing process extracts the sugar from the grain, yet it’s still high in protein and fiber, including prebiotic fiber, which supports gut health.
TOGETHER WE BAKE
This nonprofit uses local apples and kale that would otherwise be discarded and turns them into chips. The apples are dusted with cinnamon, while the kale is seasoned with a blend of cashews, nutritional yeast, red bell pepper, cayenne and garlic. Plus, Together We Bake is a job training and personal development program for women who have formerly been incarcerated, homeless or otherwise disadvantaged.
In 2012, Forager Project began selling vegetable juices. Soon it realized it had all this leftover pulp from the vegetables. So it decided to repurpose it by dehydrating it and mixing it with sprouted brown rice, seeds, flour made from ancient grains and seasonings to produce organic pressed vegetable tortilla chips in four flavors.
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After collecting organic South American bananas that are scuffed, too ripe, not the perfect size or otherwise “unpretty,” Barnana upcycles them into chewy bites. The original flavor is just bananas and banana powder and packs 4 grams of fiber and 17% of your daily recommended potassium in each serving.
While most of us were blending bad alcoholic drinks in our college dorms, the founders of this company were blending nutritious juice made from “misfit” (i.e. ugly) peaches. Today Misfit Juicery produces seven flavors made from 70% misfits — odd-looking produce farmers can’t sell and leftover scraps from manufacturers making stuff like carrot sticks and watermelon cubes. Right now, they are only sold in New York City and Washington, D.C.