Upcycled Food 101: The Basics
Foods that Fight Climate Change!
I first heard about Renewal Mill when we both presented our companies at an investor event in San Francisco back in the "Before Times" in around 2020. That's when I connected with the founder, Caroline Cotto. This was the first I'd heard of upcycled food and I was immediately interested.
Upcycled food products prevent food waste by creating new, high quality products out of surplus food. It’s an innovative approach to food waste because it is the first consumer product-based solution, making it highly scalable and economically sustainable.
Little did I know that Caroline was sourcing her principal "upcycled" ingredient, okara, from Hoy Sodo, an Oakland-based organic tofu supplier we worked with in our local food home delivery days. They are a wonderful company, and together with the Hodo Soy team, Caroline learned that they could make use of the pulp that was a by-product of making soy milk -- in Japan this by-product is used in certain dishes (any Okonomiyaki fans out there?), but here in America it was just going to waste.
Renewal Mill transforms that waste into a gluten free, vegan, organic flour that they produce as both an ingredient on its own, but also as part of their delicious brownie mix!
In their quest to find uses for food waste (reducing food waste is one of the best things we can do to help reduce carbon emissions), Renewal Mill has figured out how to use the by-products of plant-based milk production. These byproducts are usually pulps, like soybean pulp, oat pulp, and almond pulp. They dry and mill these pulps without using synthetic processing techniques or unnatural fortification to produce nutritious ingredients that are rich in macronutrients including fiber and protein.
I love to support new ways to make the most of our resources, and to eat sustainably -- anything that improves soil health, and reduces waste is critical to fight climate change. With "Upcycling" we are making full use of the plants that have been grown, and minimizing waste. I'm excited to see what will come out of the Renewal Mills food lab in the future -- specifically because it's a food lab that isn't creating synthetic food -- to the contrary, they are optimizing what has already been grown.
If you want to learn more, check out the PBS News Hour below -- it features Renewal Mill, and other upcycled food companies, innovating to reduce emmissions.