Photo: SaskiaAcht (iStock)

For those of us who are concerned (and, to be frank, utterly terrified) about climate change, it’s become clear that nearly everything we eat has some sort of negative environmental hazard attached. One offender that’s beginning to get some publicity: artificial sweeteners. Substitutes like sucralose and aspertame have zero calories because they cannot be absorbed by the human body and come out just as they came in. Another place they can’t be absorbed: wastewater treatment plants. Those sweeteners end up flowing into our rivers and ocean, where they harm aquatic ecosystems. Natural sugars have their own set of problems outside of the obvious health-related ones: cane sugar requires massive amounts of water to grow, and processing it into granulated sugar results in pollution and soil erosion. Honey-producing bees have been mysteriously dying by the billions. Everything is terrible, and yet I want to numb my despair by downing a six-pack of Cherry Coke Zero. Knowing that humans, no matter how much they care about the planet, will never be able to kick their diet soda addictions, Dutch company Fooditive has developed an innovative solution that not only addresses the zero-calorie sweetener issue, but also addresses the ecological issue of food waste.

Fooditive makes its zero-calorie sweetener via a fermentation process that uses apples and pears sourced from local farmers and deemed “unsellable” (read: not aesthetically perfect) by the grocery industry. The company has partnered with Bodec—a food industry company focusing on process technologies—to hopefully get Dutch products to use Fooditive sweetener. Fast Company reports that one Dutch beverage company has hopped aboard, but an NDA prevents us from knowing which one.

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In addition to the sweetener, Fooditive has developed all-natural food preservatives out of carrot waste; thickening agents from banana skins; and emulsifiers from potato extracts. Unfortunately for those of us in America hoping to go green while watching our waistlines, our current food regulations make it difficult for overseas companies to bring their products to market. Right now, Fooditive is looking to expand in Nordic countries, Jordan (where the founder is from), and the U.K.

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer. Questions about recipes or need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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