Two young children appear on your screen, faces twisted with hunger, ribs showing. You feel sick to your stomach knowing that these children don’t have enough food to survive, and you feel obligated to do something. You want to save the starving children and starving people all around the world. You want to tap into your humanity and help these skinny children, with a burning passion. You also waste enough food to actually help these children get meals onto their barren plates.
As Americans, we throw out about half of our food every year. Maybe portion sizes are too large, or certain food is considered inedible and thus thrown out. Carrot tops, for example, are thrown out because they are considered undesirable and inedible food. Jason Ball, a chef at the OSU Food Innovation Center, sees carrot tops as an opportunity to create a delicious new recipe. Ball looks at the food we consider trash, as a challenge to be innovative and strives to limit food waste by giving it a total make over. In his upcoming cookbook, Ball has stirred up a collection of recipes from homemade beer made from farm weeds to a delectable carrot top sauce.
Ball not only works at the OSU Food Innovation Center to bring change to the way society perceives food, he also works on a local level, helping small businesses develop and grow. He works with entrepreneurs in the Oregon area, guiding and mentoring them through the food business. He works with them to improve their products and conducts experiments to try and uncover new flavor combinations.
When dulse, a type of seaweed that grows wild on wave-swept shores of the north Atlantic and Pacific coasts, was brought to Ball on a plate, he wasn’t afraid to serve it up. He worked with this superfood trying to discover appealing new ways to cook it up to satisfy consumers. His mission was to take dulse, which has twice the nutritional value of kale, and cook it in a way that was appetizing.
Through many trials and errors, Ball was able to make dulse taste like bacon. Using a unique frying technique, Ball was able to give this incredibly nutritious, fast growing plant a surprisingly delicious taste.
Ball’s work at the OSU Innovation Center has helped businesses in Oregon establish themselves in the food business and has promoted Oregon goods. His work with dulse has given people a nutritious and delicious alternative to junk food. His upcoming cookbook has the potential to reduce food waste and change our societal perception on “unwanted” food.