Did you know that by reducing food waste, you can help fight climate change? At Renewal Mill, we are on a mission to help fight global food loss and restore the planet by creating upcycled, chef-crafted baking staples. Since launching in 2016, Renewal Mill has been pioneering the upcycled food movement. Now, in 2022, we’re continuing our mission to make it easy for consumers to find upcycled products at their local grocery store, or choose upcycled options over conventional ones, whenever possible to help protect our planet this year and beyond.
So, what does “upcycled” mean and why is it important for restoring the planet in 2022?
While the food waste movement across America is gaining momentum, it needs to pick up speed to help tackle one of the globe’s most pressing problems: climate change. Wasting food disregards the water and energy used to produce it, and it generates greenhouse gases — 11 percent of the world’s emissions— like methane, carbon dioxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, which contribute to global warming. Food that sits decaying in landfills also produces nitrogen pollution, which causes algae blooms and dead zones. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the production of wasted food in the United States is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions of 37 million cars. If Americans continue on the same path of food loss, the environmental impact could be disastrous.
Upcycled food is about reducing food waste, by creating high quality, nutritious food products out of the nutrients that slip through the cracks of our food system. Upcycling is an ancient tradition based on the philosophy of using all of what you have, meaning doing more with less and elevating all food to its highest and best use.
To help reduce food waste, we at Renewal Mill, an Oakland-based upcycled food company, are fighting climate change and global food loss by upcycling byproducts from food manufacturing and turning them into a line of original baking staples. Our founders, Caroline Cotto and Claire Schlemme, believe that doing good should be pretty darn delicious, too. Starting with the byproducts of plant-based milk, they've crafted a line of premium, high-fiber, gluten-free, vegan, and plant-based flours. Yup, that's right: a healthy alternative to traditional flour. At-home bakers can use Renewal Mill's upcycled flours as a sustainable alternative in their favorite recipes, or enjoy baking mixes such as Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix (just add water and oil!). It’s baking, made sustainable.
“By improving the efficiency of our food system, Renewal Mill is helping ensure that the next-generation of eaters have a healthy planet and a sustainable future,” said co-founder, Caroline Cotto. “Upcycling is about respect: respect for all the resources that go into growing and producing our food, and the people who do it.”
How can you help and do your part to reduce food waste?
- Learn about upcycled foods. Taking the time to explore upcycled products is one major way to help reduce food loss. For example, Renewal Mill’s top selling upcycled Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix is a sustainably-sourced, vegan, and gluten-free alternative to traditional flour-based baking mixes. Other favorites to get you started on the sustainable snacking train are Pulp Pantry’s grain-free chips, made from upcycled veggie pulp from the juicing process, Brewer’s Crackers, made from spent grain from beer brewing, and Candid Noons, made from upcycled cacao fruit from cocoa production.
- Choose upcycled products over conventional. The Upcycled Food Association is a great resource for identifying upcycled products and ingredients. They recently launched the world’s first third-party certification program that makes it easy to buy upcycled. Now products can be “Upcycled Certified” the way they would be Certified Organic or Certified Non-GMO. The certification highlights upcycled ingredients and the use of verifiable supply chains, which has a positive impact on the environment and helps make the sustainable choice the easy choice.
- Eat more plant-based foods. The UN identifies plant-based diets “as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change.” What we eat is one of the biggest contributors to our individual carbon footprint. By paying attention to the ingredients in the products you buy, you can make conscious buying decisions that are better for you and the environment. Plant-based and upcycled foods give everyday people the ability to vote with their dollars to end food waste and fight climate change, as well as snack deliciously with products like Rind’s dried fruit that uses the whole peel and Uglies Potato Chips, which are made from potatoes with slight imperfections. And don't stop at just plant-based! Look for certifications that indicate the product is organic, regenerative, or in any way sustainably grown to further reduce environmental impact.
Named a “World Changing Idea” by Fast Company and a “Top 10 Food Trend” by Whole Foods, Renewal Mill is an award-winning, women-owned and operated, upcycled baking company based in Oakland, California. From our kitchen to yours, we invite you to join the upcycled food movement.