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Trash or Treasure? Repurposing Food Waste to Feed the Hungry

Categorie(s): Food for Mankind, News, Waste

“If I offered you a bruised banana, you probably wouldn’t be interested,” said Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, director of Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. “But what if I offered you some banana ice cream on a hot summer day? I bet you’d find that a lot more appealing.”

It was this simple observation that inspired a new model for recovering would-be wasted – or surplus – food and repurposing it to feed hungry people, generate revenue and even create jobs. The model was recently piloted in West Philadelphia, home to a large population of low-income and food insecure people.

Roughly one third of all global food gets wasted, according to the report. In the United States, that number is even higher, with nearly 40 percent of all food going to waste, making it one of the most wasteful countries in the world. Supermarkets – where fresh produce is routinely taken off the shelves for cosmetic reasons – are a major source of this food waste. It was here that the researchers chose to focus on saving food loss and channeling this food stream in new and efficient ways to those in hunger.

Drexel culinary arts and food science students collected thousands of pounds of bruised or misshapen fruits and vegetables from area supermarkets and developed products and recipes in the student-run Drexel Food Lab to put them to better use. These new, more appealing products could then be served or sold, diverting the food items from the landfill and creating a more sustainable food system, dubbed the Food System-Sensitive Methodology (FSSM) by the researchers.

To illustrate the model, Deutsch returned to the banana example. As soon as bananas are ripe, they are pulled from supermarket shelves because they’ll be overripe by the time the consumer gets them holandfilolme and may get thrown in the trash,” he said.

Although many supermarkets now donate such surplus foods to soup kitchens or shelters, items like overripe or bruised bananas may still end up in the trash because they are unappealing, even to someone who is food insecure.

Landfill, no place for food!

Source: ENN,  August 26, 2015