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The Upcycled Food Trend Is Rooted In Trash

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Photo: corin mihaila/Shutterstock

As a planet, we're not doing so hot when it comes to food waste; one-third of food produced each year is wasted. So being conscious about how much edible food you're throwing away is a worthy effort. That's why more and more restaurant chefs and home cooks are thinking up ways to upcycle food products that normally get pitched.

While the drive for sustainability is not a new concept, the food trend is starting to reach new levels of popularity. The Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel included upcycled products as part of its predicted top 10 food trends for 2018. "We're already seeing pressed juice made from imperfect fruit, chips made from fruit pulp, and snack bars made from spent grain from the beermaking process," the panel stated in a press release. "Expect more to hit the market in the coming year." (Another food trend that's blowing up RN: Beautiful Blue Majik.)

Upcycled food hasn't just been showing up on supermarket shelves, but on restaurant menus, too. Chefs are coming up with such delicious ways to cook with food scraps that you'd never know you're eating "garbage." So even if you'd never in a million years take up freeganism (which is generally described as finding alternate means of survival, like foraging, to limit overall consumption and maintain available resources), you can still get in on the sustainability effort. At Graffiti Earth in New York, chef Jehangir Mehta makes an effort to use imperfect produce that might otherwise go to waste. And Broken Shaker at Freehand L.A. serves a "Trash Tini" with an infusion made from charred, upcycled onion. (Get in on the trend at home with these 10 tasty ways to use food scraps.)

Getting into the habit of using food scraps at home is good for the earth and for your wallet. You can start small by keeping a stockpile of veggie scraps to use for making broth or vowing not to throw away your leftover pulp from juicing. (Here are nine juice pulp recipes that will help you to stop wasting produce.) When you're really lost for how to use an edible scrap, you can take ideas from no-waste bloggers like Trash Is for Tossers or Going Zero Waste.

For the earth's sake, let's hope this trend is more of a growing movement than a hot-trash fad.

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