In the realm of sustainable food practices, Dr. Darren Burke has pioneered a groundbreaking technique to rescue nutrients from food waste. He’s achieved this by developing an innovative technology that can transform discarded food into nutritional supplements of significant value. Dr. Burke used to be a leader in food upcycling, turning foods that would have been discarded into other foods fit for human consumption. This endeavor has often elicited various reactions and a fair share of bemused glances.
Envisioning food waste, one typically pictures soggy compost bags or pungent green bins awaiting collection by the local waste disposal services. This method of disposing food waste hasn’t undergone significant changes in a quarter of a century. Waste management corporations continue to receive substantial payments to collect, transport, and dump excess, expired, or uneaten food into community landfill sites.
Consequently, businesses that rely on selling fresh produce face an escalating issue, with the cost burdens eventually being transferred to the final consumers and the environment. According to the United Nations (UN), if food waste was classified as a country, it would rank third in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, right after the United States and China.
Globally, we squander about 30% of our food production, with this figure escalating to nearly 50% in North America. While these numbers encompass both plant-based and animal-based foods, it’s worth noting that nearly 30% of fruits and vegetables are discarded merely due to their unconventional size or shape.
Food waste permeates through our entire supply chain, beginning at the farmer’s fields and ending with leftovers on our dinner plates. Every year, North America alone disposes of approximately 63 million tons of food. This amount signifies not just a colossal loss of consumable food but also an expenditure of over $200 million incurred in growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of uneaten food. The fair market value of such wasted food quintuples this figure. The nutritional loss is immeasurable, especially for those in need.
As Dr. Darren Burke delved deeper into the concept of upcycling food waste, he was taken aback by the absence of similar initiatives. The lack of participation from others, while surprising, could be attributed to the complexity and high cost associated with properly implementing such an initiative. Large-scale waste management firms, who could contribute significantly, often hesitate due to revenue implications. Government enforcement could be an effective solution, but the powerfully organized and influential waste management lobby often poses a substantial hurdle. Consequently, this task largely falls onto entrepreneurs and environmentally conscious individuals who value our planet’s well-being over pure profits.
Thankfully, the tide is gradually turning, driven by increasingly aware consumers who are demanding more sustainable practices from their preferred brands. This growing mindset and social activism is fostering progress and meaningful change.
Dr. Darren Burke’s venture, Outcast Foods, has paved the way by developing a proprietary, patent-pending process that can convert waste stream fruits and vegetables into long-shelf-life packaged products. While still in its early stages, this is a significant stride towards a sustainable future.