Ugly to Upcycled

June 2023 - Nutrition

It’s a movement that started when light was shed on the amount of fruit and veg getting thrown out for being ‘flawed’. Today, more customers are willing to overlook imperfections. And now, innovative food businesses are going a step further, ‘upcycling’ beets, sweet potatoes and even brewery grains that would have otherwise gone to waste—and creating really tasty foods and drinks. Here, we explore this exploding trend and introduce you to a few of those on the front lines saving ‘ugly’ produce.

How much ‘ugly’ food gets wasted every year, just because an apple has gone soft or a bell pepper has a spot? Globally, one-third of all food produced for humans—nearly 1.3 billion tons—is lost or wasted every year. Determined to give all those less eye-catching but perfectly edible fruit and veg a second chance, an entire industry of ‘food upcyclers’ has emerged, inspiring a movement that benefits the economy, the environment and our farms.

From dried banana chips and cold-pressed watermelon juice to avocado energy bars and ‘karma’ cashew nuts still in their skins, food businesses are developing ways to eat past the waste and help prevent global warming (rotting food emits methane, a gas 20 times more harmful than CO2, and is responsible for producing 70 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases).

The parts of foods typically thrown away also tend to be the most nutritious, so upcycled foods also have the potential to make eating healthy more accessible. With delicious eco-friendly drinks and snacks that keep food out of landfills and help farmers use more of their crops, a sustainable, future-minded food trend is only growing and improving food security. The Upcycled Food Association, which leads the UPCYCLED certification label for US food makers, says, “Upcycled food will help to feed a growing population without increasing deforestation or putting extra pressure on the environment.”

So, what are some of the upcycled certified foods you’ll find on our shelves?

Goodly Foods Society Soups

Goodly soup is a whole lot more than just great-tasting and nourishing soup made from upcycled vegetables—it’s a whole new way of feeding our communities. Starting with a Hearty Tomato Soup recipe crafted by Vancouver chef Karen Barnaby, Goodly has quickly become a celebrated social enterprise offering an array of wholesome soups, stews and sauces made from tomatoes with imperfections, surplus squash, excess beets and other hearty vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste. What’s more, those great-tasting foods are made by people who might experience barriers to traditional employment. By partnering with the HAVE Culinary Training Society, Goodly provides good living-wage jobs and skill-building. With every 1,000 L of Goodly Hearty Tomato Soup made, the company generates more than 100 employment hours and repurposes up to 1,000 kg of produce, averting more than 450 kg of CO₂ emissions.

Chiwis 100% Natural Fruit Snacks

They might be the healthiest, tastiest, most packable snacks around. Whether you’re on a hike or in the midst of a Netflix marathon, meet your new favourite finger food.

After launching with kiwi chips, Chiwis now has almost the whole fruit aisle covered with its natural superfruit snacks: original and tropical kiwi, piña, orange and mango. If you can get your hands on them, there’s also chocolatedipped orange.

With no added sugars, oils or sulfites, and packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and potassium, Chiwis are a pretty handy way to enjoy these minerals on the go. Plus, they’re also sturdy enough to be dipped, like real chips!

Chiwis are made at a snack factory in Squamish using as much ugly (upcycled) fruits as possible.

LOOP Cold-pressed Juices

The names of LOOP’s cold-pressed juices say it all: Magic Sip, Better Together, Deep Green, Big Bang.

The brand began with determination to ‘rescue’ fruits and vegetables being judged by their covers, not the nutrients. After being washed carefully in alkaline water, then squeezed in a sci-fi-esque juicer, nutrient-rich juices are extracted and perfectly preserved without heat.

The precious liquids are then blended and bottled in locally-made recyclable bottles and nothing—not even water—is added along the way. LOOP’s cold-pressed juices contain up to 1 kg of ‘saved’ fruits and vegetables in every bottle.


We’ve all heard about bad apples and ugly bananas, but wasted grains? Well, every year, craft breweries waste nearly 400,000 tons of grain, and one BC company was determined to turn spent grain into upcycled barley flour for irresistible baking.

Susgrainable brings you high-fibre, low-sugar, guilt-free baking mixes for everything from chocolate chip cookies and waffles to banana bread. For those with a sweet tooth trying to bring plant-based snacks to the table, Susgrainable is as sustainable, delicious and fresh as it gets!

The young Vancouver-based company has already rescued 12,500 kg of grain from seven local breweries.

Hope and Sesame Milk

Hope and Sesame Milk Still looking for the perfect dairy alternative? Hope and Sesame’s trio of ‘SesameMilks’ take good for the planet and good for the tastebuds to the next level.

This delicious and uber popular non-milk is made by upcycling what’s left after the production of sesame oil. The main ingredient, sesame, is a drought-tolerant, selfpollinating crop.

But this is more than a plant-based milk that will ‘just do’ in your smoothie or latte; it’s also really good for you. Every serving of a regular sesame milk contains 8 grams of plantbased protein, all nine amino acids and Vitamin D. The Barista Blend, which froths and foams like a dream, uses 95 per cent less water to produce. You can also choose from unsweetened for zero sugar or flavoured Sesamemilks, such as chocolate, chocolate hazelnut and vanilla. Yes, they are perfect for pancakes, smoothies and big bowls of cereal.

Spudsy Sweet Potato Fries

Did you know that every year, more than 150 million pounds of sweet potatoes end up in landfills because they’re considered ‘ugly’? Well, Spudsy Sweet Potato Fries is on a mission to ‘save the spud’!

By turning sweet potatoes that might be considered imperfect into tasty, plant-based snacks, Spudsy Sweet Potato Fries gives you a savory-sweet treat you can feel good about.

With three classic and nostalgic flavours to choose from—hot fry, zesty ranch and sea salt sweet—there’s a fry for everyone. In addition to being Upcycled Certified, Spudsy’s fries are gluten-free, kosher and vegan.

These fries are brought to you from southern California, where Spudsy has saved more than two million spuds to-date!

At the Nature’s Fare Markets Bistro

Even here in our kitchens, we’re always thinking about how we can use every bit of the foods that make up our recipes. Our cold-pressed juices, for example, use nearly three pounds of organic produce per bottle and would lead to a lot of pulp waste. Fortunately we are able to use some of that pulp in our some of our baked goods, dressings and sauces.

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