Upcycled food movement aims to reduce waste


NEW YORK, NY (CBS Newspath) – There is a growing movement to reduce food waste by turning items that would normally be tossed into new products.

Bertha Jimenez moved to the United States from Ecuador to study mechanical engineering but was soon engineering something else. Flour, and not just any kind. To create it, Dr. Jimenez uses malted barley often thrown out after brewing beer.

CBS News correspondent Nancy Chen asked what would typically happen to the leftover grains. Jimenez said in a best-scenario, it would go to animal feed. In a worst-case scenario, it would end up in a landfill.

Jimenez and her New York-based company RISE call it “super 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,” she says.

The process is known as upcycling. Turner Wyatt launched the Upcycled Food Association in 2019. “It’s a way of taking otherwise wasted food and creating something new and nutritious out of it to prevent food waste,” he says.

About 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year globally, according to UFA. The Upcycled Food Association represents more than 140 businesses across 20 countries. Some are startups with product lines devoted solely to upcycled food, like snacks made of salmon skins or makeup powder crafted from rice starch.

“There’s already more than 400 upcycled products on the market, but consumers don’t know which ones they are,” Wyatt says.

That is until now. The association unveiled a new label for Earth Day (4/22). The “Upcycled Certified” label is coming to store shelves soon. It certifies products that have a net-positive impact on the environment, taking into account manufacturing and transportation.

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