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More and more food companies and restaurants are approaching their business with a sustainability mindset, assessing how their practices can help to nourish the world — making upcycling a path towards the future. Resourceful methods for repurposing off-cuts, byproducts and scraps give new life to ingredients and salvaged food “waste” that is, in fact, completely edible.
Fifty-seven percent of US consumers define themselves as “environmentally conscious.”1 Many food industry practices would not be up to these earth-loving customers’ standards. Oversized portions, over-preparation, improper storage, and extensive menu choices are just some of the ways restaurants are contributing to their estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year. Schools, hotels and hospitals are estimated to generate an additional 7 to 11 billion pounds per year.2 But operators are getting creative to combat these staggering estimations.
Education and awareness are critical pieces of the puzzle, and many foodservice operators are doing their part to teach the public about the importance of upcycling. A restaurant in India proudly touts their sustainable practices, using fish skin for chips, mutton neck bone to make stock and dehydrated vegetable peels as garnishes. A Brazilian upcycling initiative holds workshops and classes for chefs and community members, reducing waste while making more food available for those who cannot afford it. Small steps can ultimately make a large impact towards creating a circular economy, as awareness, cooperation and change happen across the entire supply chain.
In relation to food waste, it’s important to note that hunger and food insecurity take the top spot of issues Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers think are most important for food brands and restaurants to take a stand on.3 The opportunity to serve others and gain loyalty may lie within leftovers and unsold goods. In fact, over half of consumers would be more likely to dine at a restaurant that donated unsold food to those in need.4 From a compost bin to a donation pantry, the food industry can infinitely help people and the planet.
The use of both plant-based alternatives and utilization of meat and seafood scraps will continue to grow.
Consumers are expressing desire for more ethically sourced foods. “Ugly” produce and food byproducts provide chefs with conscientious ingredients in terms of food waste.
As chefs expand their upcycling efforts in the kitchen, they’ll find even more ways to communicate the benefits of their processes to consumers who are looking for transparency on sustainability-related issues.
While some operators keep their upcycling behind the scenes, others have adopted an entirely upcycled economy and are making their efforts known to patrons. Chefs are combatting unnecessary food waste through creative new dishes.
With such large operations, non-commercial establishments can make a big impact on the planet and their bottom line. Some operators have implemented advance meal ordering for their patients or residents so the kitchen knows exactly how much of each food to make that day to reduce waste. Many non-commercials have also joined in on compost partnership programs and delivering unused foods to shelters.
Meal kit companies are no stranger to reducing food waste. In fact, most tout the positive impact meal kits can have on food that ends up in the bin. For instance, HelloFresh’s website claims, “by skipping the grocery store and using HelloFresh, you just reduced your dinner food waste by at least 25%!”6
Zero-waste cooking is all about using innovation, creativity and the circular economy model to create more with what we already have. “Waste not, want not.” Chef Jomi shows us how to put this old adage to work in the kitchen, utilizing seafood scraps from other dishes to minimize food waste. By upcycling off-cuts that would normally be tossed out, he builds a Purposefully Repurposed All-In Seafood Clear Soup that is both efficient and delicious. Check out the brief video to see Chef Jomi in action as he shares his insights and crafts this delectable dish.
NuBana™ Green Banana Powder from TEROVA is Non-GMO Project Verified and naturally rich in resistant starch, a prebiotic dietary fiber. It delivers the functionality of a starch with a fruit label, yet without the sugar or taste of ripe bananas—perfect for snacks; coating systems for chicken, pork and seafood; batters; dough blends; alternative proteins and beverages.
Through the production of NuBana™ Green Banana Powder, TEROVA is helping to reduce banana waste and strives to use the entire crop of peeled green bananas. By contrast, up to 20% of bananas grown for the fresh market are composted or destroyed simply because they do not meet size or shape specifications. Simply put, this versatile “whole food” ingredient isn’t just good for consumers and food manufacturers—it’s good for the planet, too.
“Before you throw food scraps away, ask yourself it they could be upcycled for another application on your menu. Not only does this approach encourage culinary creativity, it maximizes the versatility of your ingredients and can help manage costs.”
–Chef Mark Serice, Vice President Global Culinary, Griffith Foods*
Get inspired by these on-trend concepts to create innovative offerings using Griffith Foods* products.
Make the most of an underutilized cut by splitting turkey wing flats and curing with molasses, a classic byproduct of sugar production. The “ribs” are smoked over hardwood dust and served with a thin BBQ mop sauce made with cane vinegar, bruised peaches, chili, garlic, onion, mustard and tomato.
Featuring: Griffith Foods Cane Vinegar North Carolina BBQ Sauce, Griffith Foods Molasses Marinade for Poultry
These perfectly crisp, golden-brown fritters are made with a cumin-spiced batter of chickpeas and green banana flour, with tender and colorful beet greens gently folded in. They’re served with an upcycled candied orange peel and mint stem chutney for dipping.
Featuring: Griffith Foods Besan Pakora Batter, Griffith Foods Orange and Mint Chutney
© 2022 Custom Culinary. All rights reserved.
*Custom Culinary® is part of the Griffith Foods family of companies.
1 Mintel, 2022 FlavorIQ® Global Trends and Insights Report, January 2022
2 “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.” Natural Resources Defense Council, 2017, quoted by FoodPrint.org
3, 4 Datassential Foodbytes, Uncover Why Food Values Matter, January 2022
5 HelloFresh.com, HelloFresh Global Food Waste Study accessed June 8, 2022