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Is Upcycled Food the Answer?

Episode 51: A conversation with Turner Wyatt, CEO of Upcycled Food Association.
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In our latest episode of NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Turner Wyatt, CEO of the Upcycled Food Association (and a 2020 Waste360 40 Under 40 award winner). The Upcycled Food Association aims to eliminate food waste by increasing the size of the upcycled food economy.

We spoke with Wyatt about sustainable solutions to food waste, addressing policy barriers, how upcycled food is potentially an even bigger opportunity than organics and more.

Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: Please tell us more about the Upcycled Food Association and how it came to be.

Turner Wyatt: The main concept behind it is that people care about food waste; regular people care about this issue. So, why don’t we put the solution to food waste into the hands of ordinary people?

About a year ago, I started connecting with various food upcycling entrepreneurs to learn about what was happening in the space. And I noticed that a lot of them are facing the same challenges. Ultimately, this group of 10 businesses that I was interviewing decided to come together and form an organization whose goal it was to focus on the infrastructure of the industry. So, just about 100 days ago, the Upcycled Food Association was officially formed. I have the honor and the challenge of leading this organization, which I hope will be the perfect solution to my frustrations related to food waste. This is the people’s solution. 

Waste360: Can you dig into your vision for building this infrastructure?

Turner Wyatt: We’re working on the behind-the-scenes work that doesn’t necessarily interact with everyday people on a day-to-day basis but that is critical in making the industry successful across the board and building up the fabric between businesses. A lot of what these companies are doing is so innovative and brand new, so the government hasn’t had to deal with regulating them, and product developers haven’t dealt with packaging them … so it’s our goal as an organization to eliminate these barriers.

Waste360: What keeps you inspired to make change happen?

Turner Wyatt: It is a privilege to work on these issues. And what keeps me inspired is climate change. For me, it’s about our land and keeping it healthy—and our people. And I am really inspired by science—and when all of those things can come together, that gets me really excited. When Project Drawdown came out and said that reducing food waste is actually the third-most important thing we can do to address climate change, ahead of all these other things like solar energy that we think of being the most important things … that is when it really solidified for me that this is my life’s work.

Listen to the full episode with Wyatt below and more episodes here. Read transcript here.

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