According to the Upcycled Food Association, "upcycled food is the easy way for anyone to prevent food waste via the products they buy. Upcycled foods 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."
In short, upcycled foods prevent food loss, reduce waste, and help mitigate the climate crisis.
What is an upcycled food?
Lately, the upcycled food trend has been abuzz in social media and endorsed by many health and environmental enthusiasts. But this philosophy of elevating food resources to their highest and best use (or simply upcycling food) has been around since ancient times.
As you may know, our ancestors have been making broths and soups from bits and pieces of vegetables or meat, and this tradition and its recipes are still widely enjoyed today.
But because of commercialization, many food processes do not incorporate the highest and best use of food resources. Many food products, by-products, and ingredients that companies do not sell in their portfolio are downgraded to animal feed, discarded into incinerators, or dumped into landfills. Examples of these are fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of them are discarded every day just because they are smaller than the company's standard products or are deemed “ugly” for display.
Ironically, even the production of commercial food broths containing bits of vegetables and meat might have caused food waste in one way or another, instead of its traditional intended purpose of providing nourishment, where you utilize all of your available food ingredients to avoid waste.
All these ugly fruits and vegetables, unused by-products, and ingredients are needlessly discarded daily. Together with surplus food from households, grocery stores, supermarkets and the rest of the food industry contribute to this pointless food waste every day.
According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally and costs around $2.6 trillion each year. This tragic waste of resources could have fed all the 815 million hungry people in the world four times over! That’s a lot of food! These valuable resources are not only wasted, but they also are responsible for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions damaging both humans and our planet.
But the saddest part is that every day, people like you and me have the ability to vote with our dollars to end this food waste, prevent hunger, and avert environmental damage.
Ways to reduce food waste
There are a lot of ways we can contribute. Many people are now into sustainably growing their own food and creating an environment where food waste is turned into compost to regenerate the earth. Consuming lab-grown meat and choosing to have more fruits and vegetables instead of meat or practicing veganism could also help.
There are also mobile apps made by concerned organizations which help manage individual and private food waste. They connect people to organizations and companies that can take your surplus food from households or buy unsold food from restaurants, grocery stores, and supermarkets.
Check out these innovative mobile apps that will help you fight food waste and probably save you money by reducing unnecessary purchases that could lead to food waste.
Fortunately, making upcycled food products is becoming a trend. After all, the term "upcycled" means creating a product of higher quality or value than the original. The upcycled food movement has also prompted many budding companies and start-ups to employ sustainable food systems in their production. These new companies and start-ups are forcing large food corporations to reexamine their production practices and apply upcycling methodologies.
Where can you buy upcycled foods?
Below, we've collected some notable independent startups that bridge the gap in the food system by producing innovative, nutritious and great tasting snacks. Take a gander!
These are just some of the budding independent snack brands making waves in the industry and taking part in the upcycled food movement.
We don't have to wait until election day to vote for changes in the food cycle either. We can make conscious decisions with every purchase.
The Upcycled Food Association suggests consumers purchase products and spend their money to align with their values, and Yumday is all about it!
We here at Yumday support these emerging and independent food companies that promote sustainability and produce delicious upcycled snacks that are good for you and the planet. We specially curate and promote upcycled and sustainable snacks for our conscious buyers who love great tasting food that nourishes you and helps heal the planet.
Want to try some of the brands we mentioned above? Grab our Upcycled + Sustainable Curated Snack Box today! Also, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates on the new upcycled snacks we're adding to our shop.
By Johna Tanawan, Justine Triunfo, and Kasey Woo