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Ice cream maker rolls out unusual new flavors in an effort to reduce food waste: 'Something [we all] need to focus on changing'

"This ice cream menu is our little soapbox to talk about this issue and start showing creative ways to combat this problem."

Salt & Straw upcycles, delicious ice cream

Photo Credit: @saltandstraw / Instagram

Salt & Straw, a Portland-based artisanal ice cream company, is doing its part to tackle food waste by offering a line of "upcycled" ice cream this summer.

The outfit recently announced that it would partner with Urban Gleaners, Blue Stripes Urban Cacao, The Spare Food Co., EverGrain, and Renewal Mill to source ingredients that would have otherwise ended up in the garbage for its Upcycled Food Series

"Wasted food is happening on an individual and a brand level, and we're here to prove there is something that can be done about it," Salt & Straw said on its website. "Oh, and it can be incredibly delicious."  

This isn't the first time the company has used upcycled ingredients in its products. Since 2016, it has partnered with Urban Gleaners to integrate leftover food from its warehouse. With more than 30 shops located mostly on the West Coast, Salt & Straw is also known for utilizing local ingredients.

The company said it recovered more than 38,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise been thrown out to make the special flavors, which include lemon curd and whey, day-old bread pudding and chocolate ganache, cacao pulp and chocolate stracciatella gelato, vegan salted caramel and okara cupcakes, and vegan malted chocolate barley milk. 

Each of the new flavors, which are all Upcycled Certified by the Upcycled Food Association, can be purchased at any of the company's shops or online through June.

Food waste is a growing epidemic. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans throw out 30-40% of their food. This adds up to 133 billion pounds of food waste per year. This waste has far-reaching impacts, with mountains of food ending up in landfills

In addition, all of this food requires resources to produce — when it's thrown out, it wastes energy, land, water, and labor.

"The fact that we waste 40% of our food in the United States while there are families and children not getting the food they need is an awful reality and something that all of us in the food industry need to focus on changing," said Salt & Straw co-founder Tyler Malek in a post on the company's website. "This ice cream menu is our little soapbox to talk about this issue and start showing creative ways to combat this problem."

According to food blogger Chiara Profenna, writing for The Oregonian, the salted caramel and okara cupcakes flavor is her favorite, as it is "vegan and delicious to anyone who loves a salty-sweet treat."

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