That passion for social change is shared by Elizabeth Bennett, who founded Fruitcycle, which she describes as “a social enterprise that makes healthy snacks and provides second chances.”
Inspired by volunteer work with food banks in Washington D.C., she set about trying to find a better way to recover fruit before it went to waste. “I was trying to create a solution to the paradox that we waste 40 per cent of our food while 1 in 6 Americans go hungry.”
Fruitcycle employs formerly incarcerated or homeless women and primarily uses produce that would otherwise be wasted. Products currently include apple chips and kale chips and soon the company will be launching a line of preserves and syrups.
Do you want the bad news or the good news first? OK, we’ll rip off the Band-Aid: According to the USDA, Americans waste 31 percent of the food grown in this country. Meanwhile, 49 million Americans report not having enough to eat.
Now the good news (yay!): Some companies–like our new fave, Fruitcycle–are finding creative ways to repurpose produce that might otherwise go into the garbage.
Elizabeth Bennett, the founder of Washington, D.C.-based FRUITCYCLE, believes in second chances. She collects wayward apples from under the trees of local orchards, dries them, and turns them into her Handcrafted and Hopeful Cinnamon Apple Chips, which are simply dusted with cinnamon. Bennett believes that humans, too, deserve another shot, so she partners with local nonprofits to hire homeless or formerly incarcerated women. $7 for a 2.4-ounce bag
What becomes of fruit thats too ugly for the produce aisle? Some companies love it for what’s inside. MisFit Juicery uses them for cold-pressed juices, Fruitcycle makes dehydrated apple chips and Revive Foods turns them into five different jams.
Fruitcycle founder Elizabeth Bennett takes excess, bruised or misshapen apples and kale from local farms and spins them into delicious grub. Apples are dusted with cinnamon and dehydrated until chewy, while the kale chips are made with a cashew sauce that gives them crunch. Both are produced in Northeast D.C. and are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. Additionally, Bennett — formerly the director of outreach and communications for the U.S. Healthful Food Council — employs disadvantaged and formerly incarcerated women.
A food systems academic-turned-entrepreneur, Bennett launched her food-waste-focused business in Washington in the fall. Fruitcycle has since turned more than 9,000 pounds of excess apples into neatly packaged dehydrated chips sold at stores throughout the city.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about a third of all food produced for human consumption around the world is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain. In the United States, many perfectly edible fruits and vegetables are discarded because of their less than perfect appearance. A new wave of startups is trying to find ways to bring that rejected produce to consumers. With Mary Alice Salinas narrating, VOA’s June Soh reports.
Another local favorite is Fruitcycle. The company makes delicious, healthy snacks using produce from small, local family farms, while also providing jobs for women who have been formerly incarcerated or homeless. Their apple chips and kale chips are sourced from within 100 miles of Washington, DC and are made primarily with excess or “ugly” produce, thereby also reducing food waste.
Elizabeth Bennett sees opportunities in the imperfect, the discarded, the undesirable. Put another way, she’s a big fan of ugly.
This redheaded wonder out of Washington, DC, is protesting the way we waste food in America, saving “ugly food” from the dumpster and repurposing it into yummy snacks. By doing so, she’s surging ahead with a business that seeks to not only earn a profit, but also to take a social stand to combat the hunger/food waste paradox facing America today.
This company is all about turning less-than-perfect fruit into delicious snacks. Fruitcycle makes tasty and natural cinnamon apple chips from apples that would otherwise be thrown out. It also lives out its motto of providing second chances by employing women who are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged. You can shop online (including on Amazon) and at many stores in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
“It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation with consumers and retailers,” says Elizabeth Bennett, founder of Fruitcycle, which makes a line of fruit snacks, such as apple chips, from locally sourced imperfect fruit.
“We’ve come to expect perfect produce … at the grocery store,” she said, “and both the growers and the retailers will reject anything that’s not the right shape or color.”
There’s something about going to an orchard and picking your own fruit. The breeze in your hair, the sun on your skin, and the smell of ripe fruit permeating your nostrils. What isn’t felt is the thousands of pounds of fruit wasted due to bruising, over-ripening, or the untrained consumers’ eyes. It was during such a trip that Elizabeth Bennett, founder of Fruitcycle, conceived her business…recycling fruit before it became food waste.
Studies have found that roughly 4-10 percent of food at restaurants ends up in the dumpster before it reaches your plate, and restaurants can produce 25,000 to 75,000 pounds of food waste each year. The good news is there’s evidence the tide (of trash) is turning. “It’s a really exciting time for food waste right now,” said Elizabeth Bennett, founder of Fruitcycle, a D.C.-area company that repurposes discarded apples to make dried fruit snacks.
Every day in this country, startup companies emerge with new ideas on how to make a profit. But it’s not every day that a startup company emerges with a solid plan for profit AND a blueprint for how to better society. Today, I am absolutely ecstatic to introduce to you Elizabeth Bennett, founder of the DC-based food startup Fruitcycle. The company mission? To produce healthy and locally-sourced snacks using produce that would otherwise go to waste, all while providing jobs for homeless, formerly incarcerated or otherwise disadvantaged women.
An apple orchard and a second chance. The two are now connected thanks to the mission of a new business. As Fox 5’s Beth Parker shows us, getting off the ground is what this is all about.
What became of the apple that fell from the tree and hit Isaac Newton on the head? Did he eat it, fearful of going hypoglycemic during one of history’s most important discoveries? Or did the Englishman turn up his nose at the surely bruised fruit and leave it lying there in the dirt?
If Elizabeth Bennett had been there for the maybe-mythic moment, she would have picked up that seemingly useless fruit. Falling apples are her inspiration too—not for understanding the power of gravity but for starting a sustainable and community-driven social enterprise.
Elizabeth Bennett, the founder of Fruitcycle, hasn’t slowed down since her company won the audience favorite award at MessHall’s Launch Pad competition at the end of September. Her company has been blossoming: Fruitcycle apple snacks are now available in six stores in the D.C. area, Bennett had her own pop-up event in November and she recently hired her first employee.
Fruitcycle, a brand new D.C. snack start-up, partly inspired by D.C. Central Kitchen, is taking its own bite out of food waste by making its products with gleaned fruit from the Washington area. “I got this idea after going to an orchard and seeing thousands of pounds of fruit being wasted,” founder Elizabeth Bennett tells MA, noting that “every day we waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl.”
Elizabeth Bennett doesn’t believe in the concept of a bad apple. The local food anthropologist recently launched Fruitcycle, a snack line made using unwanted or excess apples from D.C.-area orchards.
Elizabeth Bennett felt her first entrepreneurial impulse at the age of sixteen. “Every day in America we waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl stadium which is a 90,000 seat stadium and, meanwhile, 1 in 6 Americans are going hungry. And I just really think there is something horribly wrong with that and I wanted to do something about it.”
Bennett entered her idea to make healthy snacks from produce that would otherwise go to waste in Mess Hall’s Launch Pad contest, where she competed against other food entrepreneurs and startups for investment and space at the District’s newest food incubator. After being selected as one of four finalists, Bennett was voted “audience favorite” for her cinnamon apple chips; she was awarded three free months of rent at Mess Hall.
Elizabeth Bennett is the founder of Fruitcycle. Fruitcycle’s mission is “to do good – for its suppliers, its employees, its customers, its community, and its planet” through locally sourced and healthy snacks.
Bennett travels 60 miles to the Delaplane orchard a few times a week to collect fallen apples, which she receives from the farmer at a discount — after all, she’s doing all the labor to collect apples that otherwise won’t sell. On a recent trip, Bennett gathered 200 pounds of apples in two hours by herself.
WASHINGTON — It’s difficult to believe, but in a country where more than 50 million people face hunger on a daily basis, an estimated 70 billion pounds of edible food goes to waste each year. D.C. resident Elizabeth Bennett has been aware of these statistics for years. Bennett, 29, has a master’s degree in the anthropology of food and formerly worked in nutrition and food policy.
Bennett decided she wanted to do something to help reduce the amount of food being wasted in the local area, so she started gathering fallen apples from an orchard in Delaplane, Virginia, and turning them into dehydrated apple chips.
Washington, DC, food anthropologist Elizabeth Bennett witnessed this kind of waste herself at a local “u pick” orchard: according to TriCities.com, the sight of thousands of pounds of fruit on the ground moved her to action. After confirming the amount of waste by spending some time gleaning apples at a different local orchard, Bennett decided to find a use for this wasted food… and Fruitcycle was born.
Fruitcycle, a new startup that combines snack food with social enterprise, officially launched yesterday. Founder Elizabeth Bennett, who won the audience favorite award at Mess Hall’s Launch Pad competition last weekend, can finally focus on the business full time. And Day 1 found her gleaning 200 pounds of apples from beneath six trees for her business, as well as roughly 450 pounds of other produce for the Fauquier County Food Bank.
Some familiar names and some new faces are among the finalists in D.C.’s latest culinary incubator challenge. Fruitcycle: This brand-new concept from Elizabeth Bennett is just getting off the ground, according to Goldberg.