How Food Waste Can Be a Solution Rather Than a Problem
Even though millions of people go hungry every night, the world keeps wasting food at an alarming rate. Food waste is the most significant component of American landfills, where it quickly rots and generates greenhouse gases that contribute toward global warming. Thankfully, scientists are working on turning organic scraps into high-quality proteins that could feed the world and save the planet.
Food Waste as a Protein Source
Protein is an essential part of the human diet, whether from plant or animal sources. It provides the body with amino acids essential to growth, cell repair, and keeping your muscles and bones strong and functional. A lack of protein is a leading cause of malnutrition, especially in developing countries that rely on grains as a staple food source.
All proteins originate from plants – animals and microorganisms can access them through digestion or fermentation. The food we throw away contains amino acids that have the potential to become high-quality proteins the human body can use.
Here are some examples of organic waste that we could turn into a viable protein source:
- Agricultural waste – unused parts of a food crop like the stems and leaves.
- Kitchen waste – vegetable peels, spoiled food, etc.
- Meat, fish, and dairy byproducts – e.g. shrimp shells.
- Food processing byproducts – e.g. spent grain.
How Upcycling Food Waste Benefits People and the Planet
Waste-to-protein technologies could help us fight food insecurity and end world hunger. A recent study from King’s College London found that upcycling food waste can generate triple the amount of protein we need to feed everyone in the world every day. Using proteins from food waste could ease pressure on food supply chains, making safe, nutritious food more accessible worldwide.
These protein sources could reduce our reliance on livestock farming, which is a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Putting food waste to better use could soon mean no more organic waste in landfills, significantly reducing global methane emissions.
2 Emerging Technologies That Convert Food Waste to Protein
Researchers at King’s College London investigated various waste-to-protein technologies we could use to upcycle organic material. Private companies have also started using these technologies to develop alternative protein sources.
- Microbes – over 80 species of bacteria, fungi, yeast, and algae have the potential to turn food waste into protein. This process happens through fermentation – microbes break down the organic matter, converting it to amino acids as they grow. Many brands already use this process to produce mycoprotein – a plant-based ingredient that has a similar texture to meat and fish. Plus, mycoprotein has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than animal protein.
- Insects that eat organic matter could soon be a sustainable protein source in animal and human diets. They convert food waste into protein through digestion, and many brands have started farming them to produce eco-friendly animal feed, fertilizers, and edible oils. Studies show that insects offer the same amount of high-quality protein as meat, and many people in Asian and African regions already incorporate them into their diets.
Food Waste is a Valuable Resource for the Future
In an expanding world with a growing population, there is no more room for wasting food. Eliminating food waste could end world hunger and help us fight the climate crisis, and turning it into protein is the first step forward. Advanced Biotech is a trusted supplier of natural food flavorings – please contact us to find out how we can help you create the most sustainable upcycled foods without compromising on flavor.