19 Jul 2021

Feasting on recycled food

From Nine To Noon, 11:44 am on 19 July 2021

Guests at a recent three-course banquet in Dunedin made sure no food went to waste. 

Associate Professor Miranda Mirosa, from the University of Otago's Department of Food Science created a unique menu for 120 people using consumable items that would otherwise have gone in the bin.  

On the menu was up-cycled carrot crackers followed by rescued kūmara pumpkin and carrot curry and washed down with brewers' bread-waste pale ale. 

Also from the bread waste, a sugar syrup was made and the zested juice from fruits that would have been thrown away became Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread ginger beer. 

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Photo: Unsplash

Up-cycling is taking food or ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted and bringing them back into the human supply change, Mirosa says. 

A lot of the food for the feast was donated by Kiwi Harvest, a food rescue organisation, and the university’s food science department worked with social enterprise Everybody Eats - a pay as you feel dining concept based in Auckland - and local chefs to create the food. 

The university has a food waste innovation theme and the goal is to harness the best scientific expertise to provide effective solutions to Aotearoa’s food waste problems, Mirosa says. 

“We’re measuring waste and the implications of waste, we’re looking at exploring a whole range of technical solutions to food waste as well as social innovations or behaviour change.”  

She estimates 30 percent of food produced globally is wasted. 

“Food waste is everybody’s problem; it happens all through the supply chain from farm to fork. 

"There’s a lot of byproduct and waste that happens in the manufacturing sector so there’s a lot of interest from the business sector in creating these up-cycled products - taking ingredients that would have gone to waste and building new product concepts, new products around these.” 

These products can now be certified as up-cycled and can be found on the supermarket shelf. 

Mirosa says until recently there wasn’t much consumer demand for up-cycled products. 

“I think food waste is more on people’s minds these days. We’re more aware of the size and scope and the implications of wasting food,” she says. 

“We’re talking about it as a revolution actually, we’re really excited about the potential that up-cycling has to play in tackling what is a massive issue.”