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The Spare Food Co: "Whey"ing in on Climate Change

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Photo: Ben Hider (@benhiderimages)

Over the past 2 years, Hudson Valley EATS has made a concerted to focus not only on the great food of the Hudson Valley, but food sustainability too. All any of us has to do is read the headlines, and we know that climate change is real, and since food waste is the number one contributor to global warming, we need to do something, and we need to do something quickly when it comes to reducing food waste.

Nobody understands this better than The Spare Food Co., a Hudson Valley food manufacturing company on the forefront of the movement to reduce food waste through innovation. The company, based out of Dobbs Ferry, is the brainchild of two brothers Adam and Jeremy Kaye and their approach is to find more ways to use more of the food already grown and produced. According to the Kayes, the first step is to get people to not think of food that doesn’t get eaten as food waste, but instead as wasted food.

To fully understand this concept, it is important for you to understand the concept of upcycling. Upcycling is using ingredients that would typically be thrown out during the food processing cycle and making them into a high-quality nutritional food. In other words, it’s about elevating food to its highest and best use and creating value-added products.

Think about it this way, when you peel a carrot, what do you do with the peels? I would assume most people reading this article would say you throw them in the garbage or into the compost. But is there something you could do with them to make them edible? Afterall, the skins of vegetables actually contain more nutrients than the vegetable itself. So, why do we typically throw out the peels and not getting the most out of its nutritional value and use the peels in some other recipe?

This is where The Spare Food Co. comes in. Their signature product, Spare Tonic, is a line of sparkling tonics that are high in nutrients made from upcycled whey. The whey comes from White Moustache, a Brooklyn based, premium yogurt company which makes small batch yogurt from family farms in the Hudson Valley.

You might not be aware but in the yogurt making process, it takes four cups of milk to produce one cup of yogurt. So, what happens to the other three cups, the whey by-product of making yogurt? Unfortunately, most often it gets disposed of, and since whey is acid base, traditional disposal methods are hazardous to the environment. But where others see waste, The Spare Food Co. sees untapped goodness.

In the eyes of The Spare Food Co.’s, the whey, or by-product, of White Moustache’s yogurt making is not waste, but a co-product because it can be used to make a valued product that stands on its own. The whey is not something that should be, or needed to be thrown in the trash, because it has equal value and viability as the yogurt itself. Spare Tonics are packed with probiotics and electrolytes, vitamins, and riboflavin. They keep your gut healthy and protect your immune system.

It's about seeing the unseen in our current food system, according to Adam and Jeremy. The three cups of milk that turned into whey deserves the same respect as the yogurt itself because it took the same number of resources to make as the yogurt. All you have to do is look at the nutritional value of Spare Tonic to understand that.

Photo: Luis Ruiz (@larufoto)

The benefits of a partnership like this gives both companies the opportunity to grow, produce healthy products and maintain the health of the environment during production. It’s a win for them, the consumer, and our planet.

The Spare Food Co.'s mantra is, “More Ways to Use More”. Food waste is the #1 contributor to climate change and therefore reducing food waste should be the #1 way to reverse it. Their core values include first, to prevent food waste. Second, to use non-GMO ingredients. Third, to use organic whenever possible.

In a recent blog post, Jeremy points out, “The critical issues of climate change and food waste weren’t always critical. They grew out of small decisions made over generations. The weight they've placed on society has accrued. There is no going back, but we believe a cultural evolution that disentangles the mess and sets us on a more sustainable trajectory is possible. In fact, we’re making a series of small bets on it. “

I highly suggest reading the whole article, which you can find here.

According to Adam, our society has lost its ability to see food for its true value and in order to make any significant change we must change the way we approach food. Tonic is their signature product today, but in the future the goal is to create more upcycled products, and to lead people in seeing the unseen value of the food that composes our food system.

Currently there are four different flavors of spare tonic lemon and ginger, cucumber lime, blueberry and ginger and peach and turmeric. You can find them throughout the tri-state by clicking here.


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