It's no secret that the American food system is broken. We throw out as much as 40 percent of the food we purchase each year, almost twice as much as any other developed country. But there's also a staggering amount of food that never even makes it off the farm. Each year, around 4 percent of crops never get harvested; of those that do, around 20 percent are rejected for being too large, too small, or just plain ugly.
Now, food companies are stepping up to upcycle those unwanted edibles—along with the byproducts of beer, soy milk, and coffee production—into brand new products that include everything from baking flour to chips to tea.
These entrepreneurs come from all over the country, but the Bay Area is seriously kicking butt and taking names in the upcycled food revolution. Check out nine local food companies that are making a difference, one imperfect apple at a time.
Renewal Mill's Gluten-Free Okara Flour
Each year, manufacturers of tofu, soy milk and other soy-based foods leave millions of tons of soybean curd residue, also known as okara, to rot in landfill. But Oakland-based Renewal Mill has come up with a much sweeter solution: Upcycle okara into baked goods, instead. The company dries and mills okara pulp into a protein- and fiber-rich baking flour, a soft gluten-free grain that works beautifully in biscuits and pie crusts, among other things. Renewal Mill also uses their okara flour to produce an ooey-gooey vegan dark chocolate brownie mix and pre-baked vegan chocolate chip cookies. // renewalmill.com