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Food design: the secret ingredient of a circular economy

You may be a food designer, but you might not know it

Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

What is food design?

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Why is it important?

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

Who are the food designers?

  • The nutritionists and chefs who define the menus and the recipes in restaurants and canteens
  • The brand managers and product developers in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies who create the concept of a new product
  • Food scientists who define the ingredients
  • Buyers who source each ingredient
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  • The leaders who define the commitments that the company will need to fulfil and can unlock resources
  • The sustainability leaders who translate company commitments into activities for each business unit

Where to start: re-designing food in three steps

  1. A good place to start is to learn more about solutions to create a more regenerative food system. Here are some resources available to you: EAT Lancet: Diets for a Better Future; Knorr and WWF 50 Future Foods; The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Cities and Circular Economy for Food report.
  2. Change your mindset: Try to design products and menus around what nature needs. For example, legumes are extremely beneficial crops because they fixate nitrogen in the soil, which other plants need to thrive. Why not integrate more green peas or lentils in your recipes?
  3. There is no such thing as waste in nature, but unfortunately, a lot of waste is created throughout the food system. Perfectly good fruits and vegetables are set aside because they don’t fit specifications, and peels and seeds are thrown away because they have no place in the recipes.
    Using ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted is called upcycling. Learn more about how you can use upcycled ingredients in your kitchen or lab thanks to the Upcycled Food Association.



Features and thought-leadership on the circular economy

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Ellen MacArthur Foundation

We work to build a framework for a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.