Artisanal Food Waste

August 19, 2016
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Many efforts to address the food waste crisis hinge on getting consumers to buy fruits and vegetables that are adorably ugly — the bumpy tomato, the bulbous carrot, the dinged apple. Taste and nutritional value aren’t compromised by their irregular appearance. Still, many stores discount blemished produce — a concession to convention aimed at keeping the product moving briskly off the shelves and away from landfills. Earlier this summer, Wal-Mart launched an ugly apple pilot program at 300 of its outlets in Florida; grocery stores across the U.K. and Canada sell wonky-looking produce for 30 percent less than the shops’ standard fare. The slashed price tags have a subtext: The quirky produce is a compromise.

But a new crop of entrepreneurs is inverting the equation by using salvaged foods as the main ingredients in artisanal items. They’re hoping that, instead of paying bottom dollar for produce that might otherwise have been destined for the landfill, customers will pony up for premium products.

Toast Ale, a London-based company that brews suds from surplus bread, believes it has found an environmentally friendly way to tap into the booming craft beer market.

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Image: By Jonathunder – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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