The Upcycled Snacks Edit: 7 Brands Making Food Waste Delicious

Meet the brands turning food waste into delicious snacks. Credit: @jessiemaysnyder

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It’s estimated that about 80 billion pounds of perfectly good food is thrown away each year. Food is wasted for multiple reasons, including that it doesn’t look a certain way or just isn’t typically eaten, like peels and pulp. As a consumer, it can feel overwhelming to even try to think about how to repair our broken food system, especially when you see such huge numbers (like 80 billion!). While it’s true that our individual actions can only do so much, all of our small steps can amount to big steps. So, I’ve decided to stop underestimating the power of individual actions and instead, work to be a more conscious consumer.

And with that, a space that I’ve enjoyed watching is upcycled snacks. Many brands are entering the scene with delicious snacks crafted from food waste that would have otherwise been discarded. It’s a tale of turning trash to treasures. But don’t let the word trash scare you – we’re not talking about half-eaten apples here. Brands are making use of the totally-fine excess from the food production process (think vegetable pulp leftover from juicing or ugly produce that would have been tossed because it’s not cosmetically perfect enough for the grocery floor).

Below, we’re diving into 7 of the coolest upcycled snack brands, and their products you can munch on right now.

Spudsy

Spudsy

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Proof that ugly potatoes can be beautiful

Sweet potatoes are delicious, but over 150 million pounds of them end up in landfills each year because their size, shape, or color deems them imperfect. But, dents and irregularities aside, these imperfect spuds taste just as delicious as their counterparts.

Spudsy is on a mission to save imperfect spuds and turn them into something people will love. The brand upcycles the taters, turning them into a sweet potato flour that becomes the base for the brand’s puffed snacks. Spudsy’s crunchy fries and potato puffs come in sweet and savory flavors, like a classic Hot Fry and a unique Cinnamon Churro, to satisfy tater lovers with all preferences.

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ReGrained

ReGrained

$5.99
$5.99
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Beer has the potential to be so much more

I’ve never stopped to think about what happens to all of the grains that are used to make beer after the brewing process – until now. ReGrained founders Jordan and Dan were home brewers and had one pound of grain leftover every time they made a 6-pack of beer. After throwing it out for months, they decided to try making bread with the leftover grain – and it turned out to be delicious. They realized their findings had an opportunity to help save the billions of pounds of grain breweries are left with each year.

ReGrained SuperGrain+ is the brand’s hero ingredient. It’s a flour-like powder derived from upcycled brewer’s grain. ReGrained has all sorts of products based on its proprietary powder, including bars, puffs, and baking mixes.

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I Am Grounded

I Am Grounded

from $9.00
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An unlikely and sustainable source of caffeine

Ever wondered where your coffee beans really come from? Before they’re harvested, roasted, ground up, and brewed into the liquid you rely on to wake up each morning, coffee beans live inside a fruit, commonly known as the coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are caffeinated too, but when the seed (aka the coffee bean) is taken out of the fruit, the cherries are often discarded. Not only is this wasteful, but coffee cherries produce toxins when they spoil, which can contaminate water systems and damage local ecosystems.

In an effort to protect the environment and make use of this oft-discarded fruit, I Am Grounded makes energy bars out of upcycled coffee fruit extract, along with a few other natural ingredients like dates, almonds, and cashews. The best part? Each bar boasts 85g of caffeine, which is similar to what you’d get in a cup of matcha.

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Climate Candy

Climate Candy

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Candy you can feel really good about

When you’re craving a chewy, sugary sweet treat, a piece of fruit won’t suffice. I love fruit, but sometimes you just need a piece of candy to satisfy that sweet tooth. Climate Candy is trying to bridge that gap, delivering plant-based candy chews made from upcycled fruits and veggies. The brand takes ugly produce and repurposes it into sweet chews, similar to a Starburst or Hi-Chew.

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Seconds

Seconds

from $14.00
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Carrot → Cracker

Carrots. You know them, you love them, and you probably peel them. So do plenty of juice and carrot stick manufacturers, which means there are tons of unused carrot chunks and peels that go to waste. And that’s where Seconds comes in. The brand takes this neglected produce, dehydrates it, and turns it into a flour. Then, Seconds uses it to bake crispy, crunchy crackers. With flavors like Original Crunch and Everything Crunch, Seconds is sure to meet your savory snacktime needs. On top of its upcycled-ness, Seconds is gluten-free, plant-based, and 100% vegan.

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Pulp Pantry

Pulp Pantry

from $20.00
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When leftovers get the chip treatment.

The leftover pulp from juicing fruits and veggies is extremely nutrient-dense, which is all the more reason it shouldn’t be wasted. Pulp Pantry partners with popular juice brands like Suja, Project Juice, and JuiceFarm, among others, to get that excess pulp that becomes the base for the brand’s chips. These fiber-rich chips are most akin to a tortilla chip, with a thin, crunchy texture, but they’re truly a league of their own. The brand recently made an appearance on Shark Tank and snagged a deal, but more importantly had all of the sharks commenting on how delicious they were.  

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Candid

Candid

$19.99
$19.99
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Sustainable chocolate + sustainable packaging = winning

Much of the cacao plant goes unused in the conventional chocolate-making process. Candid wants to change that by making use of the whole cacao pod – seed and fruit pulp included. The cacao fruit is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and a tangy sweetness, so Candid can ditch the addition of refined sugars.

Noons are Candid’s cacao-based crunch bites. The ingredients are minimal – cacao with some fruits and superfoods depending on the flavor. Beyond just making the most of the whole cacao pod, Candid truly champions sustainability every step of the way. The brand works with independent, family farmers who practice regenerative agroforestry and the bag that holds the chocolate bites is compostable.

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