Waste Not,Want not

Food wastage is a critical concern. Anestimated one-third of all food produced today is either lost in the supply chain or wasted outright, and the ramifcations for the planet are cumulatively destructive. While consumers’ over-purchasinghabits are partly to blame, growers and manufacturers share an equal burden. Poor transport and storage of food items contribute to food wastage. Perhaps an even more glaring issue is the amount of edible and otherwise

useful plant material that gets thrown out by growers and processors every day.

Diverting undesirable plant parts to compost can be a positive business practice. Other approaches, however, may let frms turn a proft from plant and other waste. Tanks to the leadership of responsible businesses, as well as research breakthroughs, we’re fnding new human uses for these plant parts at an increasing rate.

Grape

For all of the wine and grape juice in production, there’s a whole lot of grape seed and pomace potentially going to waste. To redirect these materials to commerce, dietary supplement ingredient companies turn them into grape seed extracts and grape skin extracts. Te sizable market for grape seed and grape skin extracts is well established. Te ingredient suppliers that participate in this space include companies such as Polyphenolics Inc. (Madera, CA) with its waterextracted grape products, and Draco Natural Products (San Jose, CA), a company that supplies numerous seed- and pomace-based plant extracts (not just from grapes) to domestic and international customers.

Independent researchers, as well as companies with vested interest in grape extracts, have published positive studies on human consumption of these extracts for uses such as helping to lower blood pressure. Teir research continues, with recent fndings supporting the use of grape pomace in brewed cofee drinks as a potential free radical scavenger, as well as a characterization of the bioactive compounds in wine grape skins, including, but not limited to, phenolic compounds, anthocyanins, favonoids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Avocado

Fresh avocado can fetch a high price, but what of the hard pit left over from every fruit? Seeing a potential missed opportunity— in the guacamole industry, perhaps?—interested parties are giving avocado seeds a closer look. Earlier this year, researchers in Mexico proposed that avocado seeds may contain useful starch. After extracting the starch and comparing it to cornstarch, the researchers determined that avocado seed starch has potential for thickening and gelling of foodstufs. Te same qualities may one day even make this starch useful for pharmaceutical delivery (into the body) and as a component of food packaging.4 Avocado seeds have additional potential human uses. A research team years ago discovered the seeds’ potential (when crushed) as an orange food colorant.5 Ingredients frm Ecuadorian Rainforest LLC (Belleville, NJ), which sells an avocado seed powder to food and dietary supplement manufacturers (alongside other seed powders, such as pumpkin), says avocado seeds are particularly rich in antioxidants.

Chocolate and Coffee During production of chocolate and cofee for the masses, the unused pods and grounds of these luxury commodities are often repurposed for compost or garden mulch, or they are simply discarded (which can spread cocoa crop disease). But there are ways of redirecting discards to beneft human health. In the case of cocoa, extracts sourced from cocoa pods recently showed promise as an experimental antiwrinkle gel for human skin. Within three weeks, gel users experienced reduced skin wrinkles and increased skin hydration.7 Available in more plentiful supply, cofee grounds and other byproducts seem to have several novel uses that researchers are now learning about. Cofee grounds can be added to baked goods as a source of insoluble fber, essential amino acids, and low-glycemic sugars. Tese properties, along with a resistance to thermal food processing, made coffee grounds seem like a sensible addition to biscuits in a recent study.8 In addition, silver skin—a thin skin layer left on cofee beans after they are hulled—is showing potential as a useful additive for skin-hydration creams.

Tomato

For many years now, tomatoes have been used not just as whole and mechanically

processed cooking ingredients, but also for the extraction of their pigments and nutritional compounds such as beta-carotene and lycopene. Lycored Corp. (Orange, NJ) is at the forefront of this tomato science, as the company has, with its various colorants and other sophisticated tomato ingredients, already carved out a nice space in the dietary supplement, food, and beverage industries.

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