Connecting the Dots: The Upcycled Supply Chain
Food upcycling means closing the loop in a way that finds the highest possible use for food byproducts that would otherwise end up in waste streams. Part of this process is ensuring that, in extending the life of food, as many people benefit as possible including farmers, chefs, consumers, and people facing food insecurity. To ensure the needs of all the stakeholders are accounted for, they must all have a seat at the table when we talk about upcycled food.
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No food upcycler is an island. To create sustainable change surrounding food waste, we must create an ecosystem of people and organizations working together to fight food waste. At NETZRO, our model requires many moving parts to function. Farmers provide high-quality grains that brewers and distillers use to craft artisan drinks, and we upcycle the unused byproducts to create nutritious spent grain that chefs, packaged food companies, and home chefs can use in new, exciting, and wholesome foods. Without farmers and brewers we wouldn’t have spent grains in the first place, and without every step that follows, those grains would end up underutilized or in waste streams.
Because all of these people are crucial to making upcycled foods a reality, it stands to reason that they all should benefit from its end products. NETZRO’s goal is not only to process grains that are high quality and high nutrition, but to ensure that these grains will benefit the community from which they were sourced. This is just one example of many where in order to make upcycling possible, we must first connect people in all parts of the supply chain.
Image Credit: NETZRO
Platforms like NETZRO provide the technological resources necessary to make upcycling possible; upcycled food product companies ensure that someone ends up eating these products; labs like AURI and Mattson provide the nutritional testing we need to prove to consumers that upcycled foods are not only good for the environment, but good for their bodies, too. And the list goes on. It takes all of these players and more to come together in order to take upcycled foods from an idea to a movement to a reality on consumers’ plates.
That is exactly what the Upcycled Food Association has done, bringing individual upcyclers together to create a movement that, hopefully, will one day grow to the point where “upcycled food” is no longer a sustainability buzzword but a staple in kitchens everywhere.
Author Bio: Amy Gilbert
Born and raised outside Washington, DC, Amy now lives in Minneapolis where she recently graduated from the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. Amy is passionate about sustainable, community-centered business practices and is excited to be a part of the growing upcycling industry. When she’s not developing recipes for NETZRO, she’s usually developing them for fun in her kitchen at home. Learn more about Amy and NETZRO.