To Be Or Not To Be Pretty: The Truth About Upcycled Food
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
I think most of us can think of recycled or repurposed food as meaning something is wrong with the food or that it is supposed to be in a landfill. This is a stigma anyone trying to reduce food waste has had to find a way to overcome because it is ingrained in consumers to think something is wrong with food that is “upcycled”.
On May 19th the Upcycled Food Association defined upcycled foods as ones that “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”.
This definition is just the first step in helping lobby legislation to make policies relating to upcycling and convincing consumers that there is nothing wrong with upcycled food. One thing I have learned through my research is that the food industry is extremely strict on what food is allowed to be sold. If the food is “ugly” or one apple out of the bunch is bad, the whole tray has to be thrown away. This has led to billions of pounds of food wasted, just because it wasn’t “pretty” enough. This truth is starting to be exposed more and more, but the purchase of repurposed goods through upcycling will show if this is just a buzzword or if it will be a movement that will change how we as a society interact with food.
In the US alone 133 billion pounds of food a year is wasted and that is not even accounting for the significant water, energy, and land resources used in food production. Project Drawdown an organization that advocates for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, has identified reducing food waste as the number 1 solution to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. That is absolutely insane! Not only are millions starving, but food waste has an immense impact on global warming.
Defining upcycled food is a step in the direction and it will be important for businesses to display the upcycled nature of their product, so consumers know they are getting a good product while supporting a cause that could have a significant positive impact on the world!