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Minnesota researchers turned food waste into chips you can eat all day long
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When I was a kid - I had a dream - eat chips wherever I want… That time did not know that my desire can lead me to feed growing population, reduce the impact on the planet and combat diet-related diseases”- recalls Aleh Manchuliantsau, food scientist that works on upscaling food waste.

40% of the food wasted by consumers. But do you know, that even before you start thinking of wasting food, the manufacturer already dumped more than half of it? 

“Imagine my fascination when I stumbled upon ingredients disregarded by the food industry (they fed it to the cows!) and still had 35 percent protein.” - Says Aleh Manchuliantsau. -“That’s compared to the 26 percent protein we get from beef”.

The ingredient? Oil cake—the dry matter left after oil extraction from crops such as sunflower seeds, cotton seeds, canola, etc.

The meal is the by-product of the oil extraction process. Oil is the majority value of the seed, and the meal is considered a by-product. Meal used as a livestock feed, primarily for ruminants.

And why is it wasted? The primary nutrient in these oil cakes is insoluble fiber that cannot be chewed and digested by humans. It is hard like wood chips.


Researchers thought, what if instead of protein isolation, we could break the fiber down?

They used steam explosion – an effect that occurs when overheated liquid exposed to the ambient environment, expands very fast and crushes everything in its path.

What they got - turned to be Sunflower chips - the first food product made from Sunflower meal as the primary ingredient. General Mills Medallion Lab verified nutrition facts. Now they know that our Sunflower chips are a food-grade product that we can commercially manufacture and sell. 

Analyses made at Medallion Lab (part of General Mills) revealed that Sunflower chips contain a comparable amount of protein as animal products: 20% protein when ground beef has only 17%, chicken nuggets 14%

Comparison to conventional chips showed that Sunflower chips have 3x more Protein, 2x more Fiber and 3x less Fat per serving than typical potato chips

Who needs that?

More and more people join Vegan movement to reduce the impact on the planet. Generation Z uses snacks as the primary source of food. 

Sunflower chips can help both and escape the side effects. Free from cholesterol plant protein reduces the risk of the cardiovascular disease. High fiber is very filling, good food for microbiome and reduces the risk of obesity and diet-related diseases. Baked, never fried chips minimize the risk of cancer.

Environmental benefits

According to Feeding a Growing World Report from Breakthrough Energy Coalition: “Between 1950 and 2009, global consumption of meat more than doubled. If demand for meat continues to increase at its current rate, by 2050 we’ll be eating two thirds more meat than we do today—which would also mean emitting two thirds more greenhouse gases from meat production.”

If we find new ways to get the protein we currently get from meat, we can help keep these emissions down. 

Some alternative sources of protein include insects, microalgae, bacteria, mycoprotein, and synthetic or lab-grown meat. As well we see the more and more meat alternatives made from Soy and Pea proteins.

All these methods need to grow more plants, while Sunflower meal upcycling redirects the existing ingredients into the more efficient way. Researchers calculated - that if we replace the animal food with plant-based - we can feed 10 times more people. 

How large is that?- Redirecting just the meals of oily crops (such as Soy, Canola, Cotton, Sunflower seeds) we can feed extra 1.5B of people. 

If you ever wanted a better way to realize your childhood dream to eat chips wherever you want, stay healthy and reduce the impact on the planet - now you have it. 

About author:

Aleh Manchuliantsau is a food developer at PLANETARIANS. Previously created and sold over 1 million bottles of nutritionally complete meals. Right now Aleh is working on up-cycling the food waste into tasty and healthy snacks. His goal? To feed a growing population without a need to grow more crops.

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