Some trends are pretty regrettable. A quick glance through an old yearbook pretty much always confirms this.
All it takes is an influential celebrity or fashion designer championing a fad… Next thing you know you’re wearing parachute pants. And with so much marketing going into changing the way you eat these days, food trends can bombard us just as quickly.
Some don’t quite stick: think Atkins Diet, Slim Fast, Dip n’ Dots Ice Cream of the Future.
Others hit the food scene and seem to win our hearts for good: green tea, kale, quinoa, probiotic foods…
You, all powerful consumer, get to help decide which food trends find permanence on grocery store shelves, and which fade away like your uber regrettable pair of jeans (you know who you are). It’s that whole vote with your dollar thing, which can make you feel ultra important next time you visit your local grocery store.
Here’s a trend worth investing in: the anti-food-waste movement.
Since the advent of grocery stores in the 1920s, grocery stores have catered to the shopper, supplying the produce that customers want to buy. As consumers develop preferences for big, round apples and bananas at just the right stage of ripeness, grocery stores have evolved to supply those choice pieces of produce for them. What this means is that a lot of produce doesn’t even make it to grocery stores because it’s not ‘pretty’ enough.
While food waste that happens in your kitchen is statistically the biggest culprit (honestly, how are we supposed to finish a whole bag of baby carrots when the tubs of hummus are so small?!), food waste that happens on farms and other stops along the food chain are also a problem.
Enter our new favorite trend: innovative companies who are venturing to turn these waste streams into revenue, all while making healthy products that might just become your new favorite thing.
We’re highlighting a few of our favorite brands rocking the anti-food-waste movement in their own auspiciously innovative and fabulously quirky ways …
Unlike the US, where most food waste happens in home kitchens, Latin America experiences most of its food waste (56% according to The World Resources Institute) before the food even gets to distribution. For organic banana producers, they aren’t able to export any bananas that are too small, scuffed up, or at the wrong level of ripeness.
This is where Barnana comes in, whose co-founded Caue comes from a family in Brazil that has been dehydrating bananas for years. Their simple mission was to bring Caue’s family snack recipe to the world. But more than that, they’re reducing waste and helping farmers turn a larger profit by sourcing blemished and otherwise imperfect bananas straight from the source. They’re actually set up at the ports themselves, where they rescue these bananas and turn them into delicious treats.
Our personal favorite is their Organic Peanut Butter Chewy Banana Bites, made with peanut butter, bananas, and just a few other ingredients. They’re a pretty handy snack to have around when you need a little energy boost, whether that’s in the middle of a long bike ride or during your evening commute home.
They recently debuted their brittles, which are made with banana chips and will be your soulmate Barnana snack if you crave the crunch.
Wize Monkey’s Coffee Leaf Tea
Like most awesome new things, coffee leaf tea isn’t actually new, it’s just new to most people living in the US. As Wize Monkey’s website explains, coffee leaf tea has been enjoyed in Ethiopia for over 200 years. As the name suggests, it’s made with the leaves from a coffee tree, which normally get overlooked in favor of the all popular bean.
This means you get to enjoy the smooth and subtly sweet tea of coffee leaves, probably for the first time. If a good tasting and lightly caffeinated tea (think green tea) isn’t enough motivation for you, there are also some serious benefits from compounds in their leaves. Namely, coffee leaves contain a compound called Mangiferin, which has been shown in multiple studies (such as this one in 2013) to be effective at neutralizing free radicals in the body. The most common source of Mangiferin is mangoes. So there you go, now you have another source!
Cool fact: these wize guys have a cupping lab where they created the first ever processed and handcrafted coffee leaf tea on Earth 🌿 They say ‘One of the coolest aspects of our job is that every time we try something new, it’s never been done before in history. That’s the true meaning of being a pioneer and an innovator. #ThinkOutsideTheBean!”
But the bigger beneficiaries here are the farmers, who are usually only able to harvest for 3 months out of the year. As you can imagine, this puts a lot of stress on them and their families. Meanwhile, their trees are alive with an additional crop that, thanks to Wize Monkey, they can now tap into.
This isn’t really touted on their website, but a lot of the tea we currently drink comes from China, India, and other places that are further away than Nicaragua, where the coffee leaf tea that Wize Monkey sells is harvested.
This brand offers a few flavors including Earl Grey (with a touch of bergamot oil), Jasmine, and Mango Party, as well as an unflavored original and a loose leaf pack. AND: they are proud to employ a team almost entirely comprised of women and mothers. Learn more about Wize Monkey’s>>
Regrained Asks You to Eat Beer
One of the most quintessential ways that a company can reduce food waste is by finding ways to use their waste products. Think whey, a biproduct of ice cream production, being used in protein powder.
Regrained is a company doing just that. They say that each six pack of beer brewed yields about a pound of what they call ‘spent grain,’ a sort of secret nutritional powerhouse that they mix with other standbys (quinoa, almonds) to create a truly healthy bar using something that otherwise would have gone to waste. Their flavors pay homage to their source, with ‘Honey Cinnamon IPA’ and ‘Chocolate Coffee Stout.’
WHAT'S BETTER THAN DRINKING BEER? Eating it…
Posted by UPROXX on Monday, March 27, 2017
Now, Regrained is a very small company, operating out of an industrial kitchen in the San Francisco Bay Area. So while they’re doing something innovative, they’re not necessarily making a dent (YET!) on the wasted grain that’s coming from the 50 billion pints of beer consumed in the U.S. annually. (That’s 11 billion pounds of wasted, healthy grain that could be fueling your next marathon, or helping you make it through your Monday morning meeting, sans hanger.)
Similarly, Barnana and Wize Monkey are also relatively small. But what they’re doing is creating markets for things that would otherwise go to waste, and potentially inspiring other companies to do the same. If wasting less is something you crave, your position as a consumer allows you to show these companies your support. Luckily for you, the people championing this trend seem intent on creating healthy products that taste great, so everyone wins!