Food that is not for eating

When you read that headline, did you think I was going to talk about food you can’t stand?

A column about Brussels sprouts or tapioca pearls maybe? I will do a piece on the most hated foods, but not this week.

I spent last weekend focused on change and innovation, so some folks might say the universe put innovative ideas in front of me. I love the idea of not wasting food, but how about the concept that food can be used in ways other than just eating it?

There have been items created from recycled products for a while now:

  • Recycled paper products are all over
  • You can have a recycled glass countertop or a recycled asphalt driveway
  • Cities have pathways and playgrounds of recycled rubber.

Food does not, however, get recycled in many ways. Using leftovers to create a new meal could be considered recycling, and that is an art in itself.

However, most people consider composting as their main method of food recycling.

Food has been composted forever; even urban dwellers can participate with innovations like worm farms. Now compostable food can be used in other ways, too.

Did you know that coffee grounds can be used in making cashmere sweaters?

NAADAM is a company that works with cashmere goat farmers directly to ensure they get better prices for their wool. They have just kicked up their social consciousness a notch, and added a new line of cotton cashmere clothing that has recycled coffee grounds.

The nitrogen in coffee helps to neutralize and absorb odours.

Another company that using their nut to think outside the box is Strauss & Ramm, a shoe company in Miami They are using the plethora of coconuts lying around to make insoles. Coconut kernel extract is a natural material, providing comfortable padding that moulds to your foot.

Upcycling is a term that is used now for companies taking food otherwise wasted and using it to make a new product. It has become a rapidly growing trend worldwide. (Food waste cost the global economy $940 billion in 2019, and it caused 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.)

In the U.K., Toast Ale has a mission to change the world with their craft beers made from bread. They use surplus bread (one of the most wasted food items) instead of barley, saving land, water and carbon emissions.

They also donate all their profits to charities associated with the food system. That is something I wholeheartedly believe is worthy of raising a glass.

There is another company in the U.S. called Regrained; they turned Toast Ale’s idea on its head. They use the spent grains from partner breweries to create granola bars and puffed snacks.

There is now an Upcycled Food Association based in the U.S., and they estimated the revenue from upcycled foods in 2019 was $46 billion. If you do the math, we still have a long way to go till we offset all the waste, but it is a good start.

Just think — soon you won’t only feel good about using that leftover meat for a taco dinner or re-purposing some overripe fruit into compote or a chutney.

You can buy chips made from the pulp of juiced fruits or tofu, or snacks made with damaged bananas.

I do have one caveat for all of us: the feeling-good only works if we are doing our part to reduce food waste. Unless we all start making sweaters from that soggy broccoli or beer from our stale bread, we can’t take credit for buying upcycled chips.

Are you with me?

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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