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Would You Eat Ice Cream Made From Food Waste?

How'd you like a big scoop of spiced-rum-flavored ice cream with streaks of sweet apple butter? What if those flavors were, well, secondhand? A small-batch ice cream chain in Portland, Oregon called Salt & Straw is featuring "rescued food" flavors in their June 2017 seasonal menu. Why? Because the world wastes millions of tons of food every year... and bruised apples ain't bad.

Chocolate-vanilla-strawberry cone from Salt & Straw

Ice Cream For Sustainability

How does food waste become a delicious dessert? Well, for one thing, the so-called "waste" is still good. For example, spices used to create flavored liquor are even better the second time, which is why the flavors of "Second-Steeped Rum Spices and Apple Butter" come from Portland's Eastside Distilling. According to Fast Company, "Salt & Straw will re-steep the rum-soaked spices in cream, then ribbon in the caramelized apple butter made from bruised apples that were destined to be tossed." See—not so scary! Another rescued flavor to join the series will be "Spent Brewer's Malts and Candied Bacon S'mores," made with Breakside Brewing's grains and malts and bacon from local near-zero-waste farm Naked Acres.

It's not just about the quirky flavors for Salt & Straw's founder, Kim Malek. As Malek tells Fast Company, she's in it to "wipe out hunger." While their ice cream menu may only save around 2,000 pounds of food, her team hopes to create awareness for local organizations that rescue and redistribute food to communities in need. Tyler Malek emphasizes that there's also money to be made in saving food. For example, he'll pay farmers fair market value for overripe strawberries that were just going to be tossed. Why? The ice cream chain will be freezing them, anyway. Win-win.

Pear & Blue Cheese ice cream from Salt & Straw

The Looming Threat of Food Waste

With plastic in our water and pollution in our air, wasting food—something that, by definition, is biodegradable—may seem like a minor inconvenience. But it's actually a huge problem. A 2016 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that we actually produce more than enough food to feed all the people in the world. The problem is that a lot of that excess is being wasted. That's bad news not only for people who need that food, but also for our planet, since excess food production means excess greenhouse gas emissions.

If you think that's too big of a problem for something as small as an ice cream flavor to make a dent in, think again. As Emily Broad Leib, director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, tells The Washington Post, "One of the best outcomes would be getting consumers to make better decisions and have less waste at the household level and have supply chains adjust to that and redistribute that food earlier in the chain." So make that a double scoop, please. I'm saving the planet.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About Ice Cream

The UK's Only Zero-Waste Food Restaurant

Ben & Jerry's Was Originally Going To Be A Bagel Company

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Ben & Jerry's was originally going to be a bagel company. 00:04

  2. Ben & Jerry's first ice cream parlor in Vermont was made out of an old gas station. 00:32

  3. Ben & Jerry's sold their company to Unilever in 2000 for $326 million. 02:13

Written by Joanie Faletto April 13, 2017

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