London-based food entrepreneur Hannah McCollum is doing her part to combat food waste by turning produce that would normally be thrown away into tasty hummus. ChicP, the brand she founded in 2015, just might change the way we all approach cooking and food waste.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations about 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted annually. But that same organization contends that if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million people.
McCollum has always been environmentally minded. After culinary school, she worked for catering companies where, at the end of every event, she’d be greeted by an unwelcome surprise. “There was the most phenomenal amount of waste—smoked salmon, steak, breads, croissants, cheese… all going to the bin,” says McCollum in a Vice article. Later, when she became a private chef, she started turning leftover vegetables into dips and hummus for the next day. Her clients loved them so much she decided to develop the idea further. She’d visit farmers’ markets, take home the vegetables they were throwing away and create hummus and spreads. Eventually, she launched ChicP, a hummus brand that only uses surplus fruits and vegetables in its recipes.
Developing a food product with sustainability at the forefront was a natural fit for McCollum who is a proponent of shopping locally, supporting local farmers, eating lots of vegetables and trying to live sustainably. She focuses on specific surplus ingredients that can be found year-round: carrots, bananas, beetroots and oversized herbs that supermarkets won’t sell. With these core ingredients, she’s created five varieties of ChicP hummus: Banana & Cocoa; Herby; Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric; Beetroot, Horseradish & Sage; and Banana, Avocado & Cacao.
Why hummus? McCollum answers the question enthusiastically on the ChicP blog: “It is a really easy product to make and so versatile, I love it, everyone loves it! You can have it with anything and it is an amazing product to eat with every single meal and something people can eat for breakfast and dessert!”
McCollum says her recipes will change with consumer trends; chickpeas have a neutral taste so you can really play around with the ingredients. Her hummus and spreads are also full of protein and don’t contain any added sugar. You can eat them as a snack on their own, add them to chicken or fish dishes, or even mix them into a pasta.
For now, ChicP hummus is only sold in the U.K. at places that include Wholefoods Market, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. Hopefully, similar product ideas will come to this country, too. According to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International, $31 billion worth of food ends up in Canadian landfills or composters every year. Some entrepreneurs are already doing their part to try to reduce food waste through programs like Toronto’s Second Harvest, which donates surplus food to more than 200 agencies and The Food Depot Alimentare Inc. in Moncton, N.B., which runs a food recovery program that will contribute to Moncton becoming a zero-waste city.