Planetarians – Eat More Chips!
One man’s journey in turning food waste into a Vegan snack
-Feeding 1.5B more people – by eating more chips
When I was a kid, I had a dream: eat chips whenever I want, and as much as I want!
At that time, I didn’t know that my desire could lead me to feed the growing population, reduce the impact on the planet and combat diet-related diseases. But now I work as a food scientist that works on upscaling food waste.
In the United States today, 40% of food is wasted by consumers. A large and scary number. But did you know that even before you start thinking of throwing away and wasting food, the manufacturer has already waste more than half of that number before it landed in front of you (in whatever form it is now in).
Imagine my fascination when I stumbled upon ingredients already disregarded by the food industry (being used to feed cows) that still has 35 percent protein. For reference, we only get 26 percent protein from beef. So, these ingredients provide more protein to the cows than they are providing us when we eat a hamburger!
The ingredient? Oil cake—the dry matter left after oil extraction from crops such as sunflower seeds, cotton seeds and canola.
The meal is the byproduct of the oil extraction process. Oil is the majority value of the seed, and the meal is considered a by-product. It is used as a livestock feed, primarily for ruminants, but why is it wasted? Why not use it for humans?
Well, the primary nutrient in these oil cakes is insoluble fiber that cannot be chewed and digested by humans. It is hard like wood chips.
Until we get a hold of it…
Our thought process was: what if instead of protein isolation, we could break the fiber down?
We then 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 we got after all of this turned out to be Sunflower chips – the first food product made from Sunflower meal as the primary ingredient.
The General Mills Medallion Lab verified all of the nutrition facts we had gathered to confirm that our Sunflower chips were a food-grade product that we can commercially manufacture and sell. We were ecstatic.
Through analyses made at the General Mills Medallion Lab, we revealed that Sunflower chips contained a comparable amount of protein as animal products: 20% protein when ground beef has only 17% and chicken nuggets just 14%.
When compared to conventional chips, it 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 are joining the Vegan movement every day in an effort to reduce the impact we are making on the planet. In our fast paced world, Generation Z often use snacks as their primary source of food. So snacks should contain all the protein and nutrients you need to remain healthy and energized through your day.
Sunflower chips address both issues: They are free of cholesterol, and plant protein reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease; High fiber is very filling, good food for microbiome and reduces the risk of obesity and diet-related diseases; and they are baked, not fried, to minimize the risk of cancer.
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 can 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 more and more meat alternatives being made from Soy and Pea proteins every day.
All these methods include the need to grow more plants, while Sunflower meal upcycling redirects the existing ingredients into a more efficient way. If we replace the animal food with plant-based food – we can feed 10 times more people.
What would that mean? Well, just by redirecting the meals of oily crops (such as Soy, Canola, Cotton, Sunflower seeds), we can feed an extra 1.5B people.
Now, that would be a major accomplishment we can all accomplish as citizens of this planet!
So, how about we all work together and eat more chips – sounds pretty easy, right?
I have realized my childhood dream of eating chips whenever and wherever I want. Now, my dream is for more people to grab a bag and eat chips beside me as we benefit the planet – and ourselves!
Author Bio: Aleh Manchuliantsau
Aleh Manchuliantsau is the Founder and CEO of PLANETARIANS. As a serial entrepreneur and inventor, Aleh has founded multiple successful business ventures over the past 18 years and developed proficient skills in nutrition, open innovation and startup management.