BITING THE GOOD BITE: How Freeze Drying Helps Answer Our Food Waste Problem
Welcome to our first blog, dear Reader! Take off your coat and stay a while — don’t worry, not too long. We don’t like wasting your time. Actually, reducing waste is kind of our thing, which is why Sow Good is nourishing a revolution. A food waste revolution, that is.
DID YOU KNOW
50% of produce goes to waste in the United States every year? That’s 80 billion pounds of food. And what takes up the most space in U.S. landfills? Wasted food.
When a fruit or veggie’s shape, size, or other characteristic does not meet industry standard, it is deemed “out of spec” by grocery stores or other sellers and discarded. These imperfect or ugly foods, as you might have heard them called in recent years, make up 40% of total food waste.
NOW LET'S TALK FOOD SPOILAGE — AND HOW TO STOP IT
It’s a big burden. On average, every year people throw away $1,600 or 219 pounds worth of spoiled food alone.
Many of us have been there. We buy a fresh batch of berries, pick out the ones that have already rotten, just to find that soon after, there are more spoiled pieces. Fresh food spoilage is a big burden, from farm to household.
Trying to solve the food waste issue is a heavily discussed and researched topic. Sow Good’s preferred way to help alleviate the product spoilage problem, and save ugly foods from being discarded, is through freeze drying.
SO, WHAT IS FREEZE DRYING?
Freeze drying is the process of dehydrating frozen foods when placed under a vacuum that removes all of the moisture content from the product. When doing this, it takes the moisture and changes it from a solid to a gas, passing the liquid state altogether in what’s called sublimation. Sublimation requires very careful control in its process over both temperature and pressure to ensure that it’s done correctly. It might sound a little complex, but overall, there are only three steps when it comes to freeze drying foods: pre-freezing, primary drying (during sublimation), and secondary drying (to remove any remaining water). Once this is done, we can enjoy our favorite fruits, vegetables, meats, and even coffee and dairy products.
DO FREEZE DRIED FOODS LOSE THEIR NUTRITIONAL VALUE?
Like many other techniques, there is always the concern of stripping the nutritional value of our ingredients when we prepare them. Whether it’s boiling, baking, deep-frying, or freezing, there are countless ways to prepare or cook our ingredients, but consuming them doesn’t always mean that we’re getting in those nutrients. Deep-frying, for example, dehydrates the food while stripping the protein, vitamins, and minerals from it. With freeze-dried foods, we don’t have to worry about that. Compared to other methods, freeze-dried foods lose almost none of their nutritional value, and with only the water content removed, it actually makes the products more flavorful.
IS THE SHELF LIFE PROLONGED? (SPOILER: YES. BY YEARS.)
The shelf life for freeze dried foods in comparison with fresh foods and other alternatives is astronomical. Most fresh foods will last approximately 3-7 days (depending on the food group and storage of food). With frozen foods, we are lucky enough to be able to freeze extra produce, meats, poultry, soups, and sauces for around 6-12 months. Most households freeze their food as their primary preservation method, but face the issues of freezer burn and limited freezer space. Freeze dried food prevents all of this from happening with its shelf-life outliving all of the rest. In a can, freeze dried foods can last up to approximately 25 years, and six months to three years in a moisture-resistant bag.
Freeze dried foods are the perfect go-to snack for consumers of all ages to enjoy. Sow Good offers a wide variety snacks such as freeze dried apple slices, blueberries, edamame, mango slices, apple cinnamon granola, cherries, banana chips & much more! Not only are they a healthier, natural alternative to other convenient snacks, freeze dried foods are also packed with flavor and nutritional goodness. Companies (and yes, we will toot our own horn here) are leading the path to eliminating food waste by embracing “ugly” foods and revolutionizing the snacking industry. It’s also important to note that light-weight products help reduce emissions during transportation which furthers the benefits of freeze-dried foods. So, yes! It’s a win-win for everyone, the consumer, and the environment.