Upcycled Food: The Food Trend of 2021

Food Loss

Thanks to conscious consumers, there are many sustainable food trends like plant-based dishes, seasonal produce, and fair trade food products. But now there’s one more addition to the list: upcycled foods!
This new food trend aims to solve the food waste problem in creative ways! Let’s remember that around 1.3 billion tons of food get wasted every year. As a result, this waste produces roughly 8% of global human emissions (Food wastage footprint & Climate Change)!
And that’s where upcycled food comes in! If you aren’t familiar with upcycled food, keep reading to learn what upcycled food is and how you can make it!

What is Upcycled Food?

You’ve probably heard the term “upcycling” as the action of transforming old things into valuable items to prevent waste. But let’s focus on creativity here. Upcycling food requires as much creativity as repurposing an object to prevent waste.
When you upcycle food, you prepare safe and delicious foods by including edible ingredients that you usually throw away. This is a fantastic food trend to make the most out of foods that would otherwise end up as food waste!
According to the Upcycled Food Association, these foods “use 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”.

Why Should You Upcycle Food?

When you prepare your meals, check how much food waste you generate. Most of the time, you could turn this “food waste” into something you could eat.
Think about those peels, leaves, seeds, stems, and other edible ingredients that you usually send to landfills. You’re not only wasting valuable nutrients you could get but also affecting the environment!
Here’s why you should upcycle foods:

  1. Reduce your carbon footprint and prevent the generation of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
  2. Appreciate the energy, water, and other resources required to grow, transport, and prepare foods.
  3. Add different textures and flavors to your dishes.
  4. Prevent edible foods from ending up as waste.
  5. Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.
  6. Include nutrient-rich options in your diet.
  7. Save money.
  8. Join the zero-waste movement

These are just a few reasons why you should try upcycled food.

5 Simple Ideas to Upcycle Food at Home

Vegetable ready to be upcycled
Now that you know what upcycled foods are and why they’re important, it’s time to get creative! Before throwing edible ingredients away, take a minute to think about something you could prepare with them. Or better yet, find a few upcycled food recipes! Here are some ideas you could try:

Upcycled Food Idea #1: Use Carrot Tops to Make Pesto

Did you know that carrot tops are edible? These greens are a good choice to prepare a delicious pesto! So, don’t discard carrot tops, use them to add some extra flavor and color to your foods instead!

Turn Potato Peels into Potato Chips

Upcycled Food: potato skin chips
After peeling potatoes, save the leftover peels to create a homemade snack and prevent food waste. Bake or fry them to get some crispy potato chips you can eat while watching a movie!

Put Herb Stems in Stocks and Soups

Herb in soup stock
If you only use the leaves of your herbs, try to incorporate the stems into your foods next time. Putting them in stocks is a great way to get all their nutrients and add more flavor to your dish!

Turn Stale Bread into Croutons or Breadcrumbs

Instead of throwing your stale bread away, cut it into cubes and place them in the oven to get some crunchy croutons! Or if you prefer, use your stale bread to create homemade breadcrumbs! These are two very easy ways to upcycle food.

Last Upcycled Food Idea: Use Citrus Peels to Make Candies

Another upcycled food idea is turning your citrus peels into candies! You just need water and sugar to transform this “waste” into a healthy candy for you and your family. A popular upcycled food is sugared citrus peel and if you want to make it even fancier, you can coat them into chocolate.

5 Companies Working on Upcycled Foods

You should also support more upcycled foods. Remember that a big part of the food waste problem is due to edible byproducts left from food production.

So, it’s a great way to encourage the end of food waste by companies, by showing them the support for upcycled food! Fortunately, many companies are offering products made from food waste, for example:

Ugly Pickle: Upcycled Food that Rescues Ugly Veggies

Ugly Pickle Product image
Image Sourced from Official Site
Have you ever avoided a veggie because of its look? Most ugly veggies and fruits will end up as waste because nobody buys them. The Ugly Pickle is a company that recovers “ugly” but perfectly edible cucumbers to make upcycled pickles!

Matriark Food

Matriark Foods Upcycled Food Vegetable Broth Concentrate
Image Sourced from Official Site
Matriark Foods uses fresh surplus produce from farms to create delicious upcycled foods, such as soup and sauce bases. Their goal is to provide healthy products to schools, hospitals, and other food services.


ReGrained Upcycled Food
Image Sourced from Official Site
For every 6 pack of beer, this innovative company recovers 1 pound of grains to create nutrition bars and other upcycled foods! During the production of beer, only the grain’s sugars are “used up”. So, they take advantage of the remaining concentration of nutrients left behind! What an amazing upcycled food idea, Go ReGrained!


Image Sourced from Official Site
When you eat avocados, you probably discard the avocado seed without thinking twice about it. And this is something most people do. That said, Barvocado uses these seeds to create upcycled energy bars and prevent food waste!

Upcycled food that fights climate change: Renewal Mill

Dark Brownie Mix: Upcycled Food Mix
Image Sourced from Official Site
Renewal Mill produces flour that “fights climate change”. They use byproducts of plant-based milk production, such as soybean pulp, oat pulp, and almond pulp to create upcycled gluten-free flour!

Upcycled Food is trending!

As the worldwide population grows, we will need more land and resources to grow more food. For that reason, upcycled foods are a great opportunity to get the most out of what we’re already producing and wasting! Curious to know more about upcycled food, specifically the upcycle food waste that are making a difference?

“Food Wastage Footprint & Climate Change.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“What Is Upcycled Food?” Upcycled Food Assoc., www.upcycledfood.org/what-is-upcycled-food.
Author: Monica Chang
Started my ethical journey in 2010. Always looking for better options for me and the environment.