Make a smoothie – and do your part to help reduce waste. It’s that simple – thanks to Outcast Foods, a food tech company that takes surplus fruits and vegetables which might otherwise be destined for landfills and turns them into delicious powders and supplements which can be used as boosters in soups, shakes or components in other recipes.
We have a top five list, which includes carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and kale,
says Outcast Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Darren Burke, who set out to find a way to save the nutrients in food that would otherwise have gone to waste. “Three years later, the world coined the term ‘upcycled food’ and just recently, created a governing body for certifying it,” the Upcycled Food Association.
Upcycled food products are made with surplus food which has been repurposed into something delicious. Outcast dehydrates Darren’s top five, plus things like beets, blueberries, and apples to make plant-based powders, including protein supplements in flavours like lemon meringue pie and chocolate chip. Their most popular product is called Super Greens, made with organic greens and mushrooms blended with pineapple and coconut. What Outcast produces are nutrient-dense, vegan, non-GMO, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, and sugar-free powders with no additives or preservatives. They have a long shelf-life and smooth texture – and they help reduce food waste.
Food rescue is a coordinated effort
Based in Dartmouth, N.S., Outcast is an upcycling company actively reducing food waste, working with local farmers, food manufacturers and grocers. “There is an abundance of food in the supply chain from farm to table, but loss and waste occurs at multiple points,” Darren says. “Some related to cosmetic reasons at the farm level and some related to retail stores trying to have full shelves and the produce not selling before a best-before date.”
Outcast launched its manufacturing in Nova Scotia and recently added a second plant in Burlington, Ontario. It’s the first purpose-built upcycling facility in the world – at 4,200 square metres – containing the largest fruit and vegetable dehydrator in North America, with the capacity to process more than 450,000 kilograms of food a month. One of Canada’s most famous entrepreneurs, Arlene Dickinson, is a lead investor. “There are no other companies that have built what we have built,” Darren says. “That is, a world-class upcycled food manufacturing facility.”
Sobeys helps support progress towards sustainability
Along the road to success, Outcast turned to Sobeys to learn more about the movement of food in its stores and the process of what happens to food when it reaches its best-before date. “[Sobeys has] been an amazing partner and resource for learning about food loss and waste,” Darren says. “We receive rejected food from their distribution centres and also merchandise our finished goods on their store shelves in select retail locations.”
Moving forward, Outcast is working hard to increase its production capabilities and the diversity of its products. “There is an exciting new product called Market Mix coming next, which will include tomatoes from JC Fresh Farms near Leamington, Ontario; potatoes from EarthFresh [in Burlington, Ontario]; broccoli from Church Brothers Farm in California and onions from Oxford Frozen Foods [in Oxford, Nova Scotia].”
Outcast is also in the early stages of having a carbon-offset project validated and audited.
Simply put, by rescuing food destined for landfill, we reduce the amount of greenhouse gases the rotting food would release into the atmosphere.
Says Darren. Outcast’s recycled packaging made with compostable materials adds another layer of waste reduction. So, the next time you want to scoop a little bit of goodness into your cereal bowl or smoothie glass, you can improve your health – and stand up for the planet.