From Dumpster-dive cafes to a national ban, we've already explored cool initiatives to combat food waste. Recently, however, a new crop of food-waste activists has been making waves on this important issue. And they've done so in a decidedly capitalist way: If you want to fight food waste, why not turn it into usable, sellable food?
Here are just a few of our favorite ways to fight food waste:
Toast Ale: Beer, brewed from old bread
When cafes and sandwich shops prepare food, they often end up with trimmed ends of bread loaves that usually go to waste. Plus, it's almost impossible to stock their pantries without the occasional loaf going stale. Founded by U.K.-based food-waste campaigner Tristram Stuart, Toast Ale collects waste bread and uses it to brew an award-winning range of beers. In fact, the company — which now brews in England, South Africa and the U.S. — believes so strongly in its mission that it even publishes its recipes online, so you can brew them at home and save even more bread. And the best part (apart from the fact it's beer)? One hundred percent of profits from Toast Ale are plowed into Feedback, a global charity that fights food waste.
ReGrained: Healthy snacks, made from brewery waste
For years, farmers have known that spent grains from breweries make an excellent, digestible form of nutritious animal feed. But why not cut out the middleman/pig? ReGrained creates nutritious snacks for humans in the form of "supergrain bars," using the waste products from our society's recent craft beer revival. Indeed, ReGrained argues that it's the birth of small-scale craft breweries that makes such efforts necessary, because small breweries in dense urban centers are less well-placed for distributing their spent grains to farming communities around them.
Misfit Juicery: Ugly fruits turned into yummy drinks
It's bad enough that mountains of food go to waste each day. What's worse is that much of it is wasted for aesthetic reasons alone. From misshapen carrots to blemished apples, much of the produce that distributors and supermarkets reject is perfectly good in terms of flavor and nutrients. That's why Misfit Juicery was established, creating delicious to-go juices available at retail and restaurant locations across the D.C. and New York City metropolitan areas.
Rubies in the Rubble: Preserving the glut, again
By their very nature, preserves, pickles and jams have always been a way to store produce until it can be eaten. Typically, that meant using up your summer "glut" to stock up the pantry for the fall. U.K.-based Rubies in the Rubble offers a modern take on this tradition, using excess or reject produce from commercial supply chains and turning it into high-value chutneys, sauces and pickles that will keep on the grocery store shelf.
Imperfect Produce: Direct consumer sales of aesthetically challenged produce
It's become common for many of us to subscribe to organic or local "vegetable box" delivery programs. Sometimes they're run by a single farm, and sometimes they curate from several different suppliers. Imperfect Produce offers a similar model, buying misshapen or otherwise "imperfect" produce direct from farms and delivering it to consumers in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County and Portland, Oregon.
BarstensVol: Soup from surplus
Ever clean out your pantry by making a big pot of stew or soup? Netherlands-based BarstensVol is the commercial equivalent of that, offering a line of ready-to-heat sweet pepper, zucchini, mushroom and tomato soups from overripe or excess produce. Offered in convenient, two-to-three person pouches, BeastensVol's recipes are specifically developed to use up produce that regularly goes to waste.