Shopping, Sustainable

Shopping, Sustainable

We Taste Tested 9 Brands Turning Would-Be-Wasted Ingredients Into Snacks

Upcycled foods are actually way better than they sound.

10/27/2021 9:21:00 PM

Surprise! Upcycled foods are actually way better than they sound.

Upcycled foods are actually way better than they sound.

, in 2016, he sought to focus on ingredients that would have been wasted. Some days this involved transforming spent coffee beans into a cold-pressed espresso ice cream. On others he collected bits and bobs from high-end restaurants that would use only a small part of a vegetable in a dish. Despite being a devout upcycler, Mehta is amused by the term. When he came to the U.S. from India in the 1990s, he was shocked at how much food ended up in landfills. He wasn’t accustomed to such a culture of waste, he says. Where he grew up, if there were scraps, you found a way to eat them. “It was such a natural way to use ingredients, it didn’t strike me as upcycling,” he says.

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While the everyday salvaging Mehta describes isn’t necessarily novel, the success of upcycled products represents a meaningful attitude shift among consumers and producers. Mehta, who now works with food sustainability groupChefs for Impact, hopes that with a long overdue reckoning about waste and growing concern around what we eat and how it affects the planet, the practice of upcycling will keep growing to a point where the marketing term becomes unnecessary. It will just be obvious. “Like, my kids know that smoking is bad for you,” he explains. “No one has to tell them.”

The spirit behind upcycling—“Making the most of food,” says Chow, like our ancestors have always done—is a solid one. But there’s still a crucial concern: Do upcycled foods taste good? I tried nine brands to find out.To the taste test!Blue StripesWhat is it? headtopics.com

This cacao-lovin’ company exists solely to find ways to employ the whole seed—shell, pulp, and beans—in a suite of snacks. Its granola, for example, uses flour made from the cacao shell, and the cacao water is “milked” (sorry) from the juicy white pulp surrounding the beans.

What does it taste like?Blue Stripes is the most consistently delicious of all the upcycled brands I tried. Thecacao wateris sprightly and sour, like a slightly sharper coconut water. The Nutella dupe is rich and nutty in the best way. And the granola, like the best parties, has a slightly unexpected mix of players (chocolate! poppy seeds! pumpkin!) and a cozy vanilla warmth that makes everyone play nice.

Read more: Bon Appétit »

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