Los Gatos, Calif. — At Tyler Malek’s ice cream parlors, one cook’s trash is another chef’s frozen delight.
The head of the Portland, Oregon-based chain Salt & Straw uses leftover whey from upstate New York yogurt factories to make its lemon curd flavor. For his barley milk chocolate flavor, he blends leftover rice and cereal from brewing to give it a light, creamy taste.
“Instead of calling this food waste, we should call it wasted food and start to decrease the amount of waste we’re making,” Malek said.RELATED
Malek’s ice cream chain is among the businesses at the forefront of the upcycling movement, which seeks to create high-quality products from food scraps. Malek’s chain, which has stores from the Northwest to Miami, now offers flavors like “Cacao Pulp & Chocolate Stracciatella Gelato,” which is made from cocoa pulp left over from chocolate production and would otherwise have gone to waste. in the trash.
It’s a trend that is gaining ground as consumers spend more time reading package labels and menu ingredients to learn where their food comes from and how it affects the environment.
More than 31 million metric tons of food is wasted each year in the United States, roughly 40% of the country’s food production, costing the national economy more than $200 billion, according to the Upcycled Food Association. .Recycled foods are becoming more common in cake mixes and veggie chips at natural grocery stores. (Jeff Chiu)
Recycled foods are becoming more common in cake mixes and veggie chips at natural grocery stores. Ingredients include fruits and vegetables from farms across the country that are perfectly edible but often rejected by restaurants and stores because of their shape or color, such as white strawberries, slightly wilted greens, and unsightly shaped mushrooms.
The Upcycled Food Association, which recently celebrated the so-called World Upcycling Day, issues an official certification seal “Upcycling Certified” for qualifying products. These stamps, which adorn the new recycled flavors of Salt & Straw, seek to raise awareness among consumers that the company that makes the food uses these ingredients.
The association initially certified some 30 products in 2021 and now has 450 with the label.
“A lot of the food that isn’t eaten or thrown away in our supply chain is actually due to archaic cosmetic standards or some kind of perceptions of what we think of as edible or quality food,” laments Angie Crone, CEO. of the association. “So this is a brand that you can see on products wherever you shop, so you can understand how that company is reducing food waste in their supply chain.”
The association’s seal also appears on all products made by the Renewal Mill, an Oakland-based company that turns plant-based milk byproducts into pantry foods like baking flour to reduce waste at manufacturing level.
“Our first product is the leftover pulp from soy milk. We turn it into a fiber-rich gluten-free flour called okara flour,” explains Caroline Cotto, its co-founder. “And then we use that flour to make things like baking mixes and ready-to-eat cookies.”
The company’s okara flour is featured in Salt & Straw ice cream parlors’ newest flavor: “Salted Caramel & Okara Cupcakes.”
The movement isn’t limited to recycled products found at a trendy ice cream parlor, farmer’s market, or natural-focused grocery store. In San Francisco, a restaurant that serves pizza and wine focuses on recycled ingredients like mushrooms and misshapen peppers or faded tomatoes, as well as leftover meat for menu staples like beef heart meatballs.
“I think a lot of people think of this as scavenging or using rotten ingredients, but no, we have a food system that produces way more than is necessary and creates tons of waste,” says Kayla Abe, co-owner of Shuggie’s Trash. Foot. “There are people who do not read that it is a beef heart meatball and only see a meatball. They ask for it and say: “It’s the best meatball I’ve ever eaten in my life.”