What is upcycled food, anyway?

cacao beans with fruit attached
Photo: Camille Delbos/Art In All of Us / Contributor (Getty Images)

If you’ve been hearing the term “upcycle” tossed around lately, prepare to hear it more often. As companies try to figure out ways to minimize waste and prevent climate change, they’re working on strategies to turn items that would otherwise be discarded into something useful, or in this case, edible.

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Upcycled food is made of ingredients that were destined for the bin after production processes. CBS News reports on how different companies are taking their own approaches to not only minimize waste, but make new products in the process. Bertha Jiminez, co-founder of Rise, looks to turn scraps into nutritious and delicious ingredients for other things.

One day she showed up at Keg & Lantern Brewing Company in Brooklyn, New York, with a bucket. She was looking for spent malt barley, and the brewery had a lot of it. Head brewer Jeff Lyons said the brewery produces a dozen barrels of malt barley a week, on average, that is typically discarded later. Jimenez takes the malt barley, and turns it into flour.

“That’s 12 times the fiber, two times the proteins, and one-third of the carbs. It’s like really, really delicious. And it’s also sustainable,” Jimenez says. She and her team created a sort of “superflour” from the spent grain she gathered from breweries. It had a particular flavor from being part of the brewing process, and she gave it to a chef for feedback.

“We said, ‘We are so sorry that it has some flavor.’ He was like, ‘Actually like that’s the part that I really like it,’” she said.

CBS News also reported on a company called Candid that uses fruit pulp, traditionally a waste product during chocolate production. Chris Kajander, Candid’s CEO, says, “We essentially extract the pulp and remove it, set it aside. And then go about making chocolate the way chocolate is made. Then we reincorporate the pulp as the primary sweetener.” That’s pretty cool; I’ve heard that cacao pulp is delicious). So when, not if, you see the term “upcycling,” don’t think of it as getting discarded food, realize that you’re getting some newly discovered form of deliciousness.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

raniqueenphoenix
Rani doesn't need Vijay

This is normal in developing countries. We’re just spoiled enough that we can throw things away.