ITHACA and WASHINGTON (March 25, 2019) –The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $540,000 Seeding Solutions Grant to Cornell University to develop a way to convert nutritious agricultural waste into snack foods. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the New York Apple Association and Cornell University for a total $1.08 million investment.
“About one-third of food waste occurs during food processing operations and represents tremendous amounts of nutrition and energy,” said Dr. Syed Rizvi, Professor of Food Process Engineering at Cornell University and the principal investigator of this project. “Value recovery from these resources to health beneficial products using novel technologies is both a necessity and a challenge that we propose to address in this research.”
The demand for commodities such as juice, jam, concentrates and alcohol are increasing. Most of these products require only the water and water-soluble components. As a result, much of fruit and vegetable skin, seeds, core, stems and soft tissue is left behind after processing. The remaining fruit and vegetable bits become an agricultural byproduct called pomace. Approximately 25-40 percent of the total fruits processed end up as pomace, which has little economic value, limited utility and is harmful to the environment.
Pomace is a natural source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Instead of including this nutritious byproduct in food, it is currently disposed of as waste or used in animal feed, fertilizer, pectin, citric acid and biofuels. This project aims to preserve the nutritional qualities of pomace by developing a technology that can convert it in to value-added snack foods. The successful conversion of pomace into valuable commercial snack foods and cereals will provide a nutritious input for food and beverage manufacturers, reduce food waste, and mitigate environmental damage.
“Reducing agricultural waste benefits farmers, consumers and the environment,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “It is a shame to waste a nutritionally potent byproduct like pomace and we are thrilled that Cornell is looking to use this product, thereby reducing food waste and increasing the nutritional content of snacks.”
FFAR’s Seeding Solutions grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Cornell University’s project supports FFAR’s Food Waste and Loss Challenge Area (currently the Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area). FFAR’s work in this area supports innovative, systems-level approaches aimed at reducing food and nutritional insecurity and improving human health in the United States and around the globe.
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
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