Corporate Wellness

Upcycling Food?What It Means And 5 Ways To Reduce Food Waste

You’ve heard of the three Rs?reduce, reuse and recycle. What if we told you that upcycling is even better? Here’s a handy guide to repurpose your daily kitchen waste into delicious and nutritious food.

By Debashruti Banerjee
07 Sep 2021

In recent years, upcycling has become a booming trend that aims to not only recycle used products but also upgrade them in terms of value. The Upcycled Food Association, USA, along with researchers of Drexel University, Pennsylvania, define upcycled food as “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.”

Food waste contributes to an alarming amount of greenhouse emissions, carbon footprint as well as land and water pollution. Accumulation of food waste in landfills produces methane, which causes about 25 percent of man-made global warming, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Moreover, the 2011 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) assessment of global food losses and waste found that annually, “one-third of all food produced in the world for human consumption never reached the consumer’s table”.

Not just the environment, upcycling food can also provide additional nutritional benefits and save you money by making the most use of your ingredients. The process includes using the parts of food you usually throw away?like peels, pulp, bruised or overripe fruits etc to create meals, snacks, pickles. You can go a step further and invest in a private garden to grow herbs and small vegetables to have easy access to fresh produce. Those who don’t have garden space can opt for small indoor plants or buy fresh produce over canned or packaged ones.

Keep in mind, reusing leftovers does not mean eating the inedible. We usually end up cutting off or discarding a lot of food as refuse. They can be great sources of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants etc. Here are some easy ideas which will get you hooked on upcycling food.



Best ingredients you can upcycle to reduce food waste

1. Save the peels: Usually while chopping veggies or fruits, we tend to cut off a lot of good flesh along with the peel. Moreover, many peels like carrots, potatoes, eggplants, apples etc are not only edible, but also nutritious, especially in fibre. In fact, even chicken skin is rich in vitamins, proteins and unsaturated fat and according to a 2012 paper published in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, contains the antioxidant selenium, which combats inflammation.

You can fry the peels to make homemade chips or stir fries, blend peels, stems and stalks to make a healthy green smoothie or even use citrus peel as zest or to flavour your drinks.



2. Make meat or vegetable stock: Why waste money on store bought stock cans and cubes when you can make them at home with no added expense? You can easily simmer meat (with bones) with herbs, butter and choice of vegetables to make hearty and flavourful broth. Skip the butter and veggies and add salt if you just want stock to use in noodles or other dishes. For vegetarians and vegans, this is an amazing way to use vegetable scraps, peels, stems and stalks to make stock that can be refrigerated for weeks. Just add your leftovers, salt, pepper and choice of herbs to boiling water and simmer till done.



3. Don’t waste coffee grounds: Coffee grounds can be used as a great natural fertiliser for that home garden we mentioned earlier. Not only will your plants thrive, these grounds will also prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs nearby, as per a 2015 research in the journal Parasites & Vectors.

4. Eat pumpkin seeds: Nowadays, there is a lot of research surrounding the benefits of eating seeds as a source of fibre and healthy fats. But those are superseeds from flax, chia, hemp etc. What about fruit and vegetable seeds? The National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, has found that pumpkin seeds are very high in magnesium, which aids in cardiovascular health and improves blood sugar. You can simply wash, dry and roast the seeds for a delicious snack or salad topping.
What’s more, you can even make mouth-watering fritters using pumpkin florets. Wash the flowers, dip them in a gram flour or chickpea flour batter and deep fry until golden brown.



5. Reuse bruised, overripe fruits and pulps: The recommended daily fibre intake for males is 35 grams per day and 25 grams per day for females. To reach that goal, you can easily blend fruit pulp and scraps in smoothies or use them in baking. Upcycling is also a great way to not neglect fruits that are misshapen, bruised or overripe. In fact, bruised and ripe bananas are crucial in making banana bread. Or you can blend ripe apples to make applesauce.
If you have a large batch of fruits or vegetables, try pickling or fermenting them to make them last longer. Achaars are a staple in any Indian household, but you can also switch things up with foods like kimchi (fermented cabbage) or kombucha (fermented tea).

The above information has been verified by Dr Lakshmi K, Ph.D Food Science & Nutrition, University of Georgia (USA), Head Nutritionist, URlife




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