From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.
Slava Chupryna was born in Kiev, Ukraine, but grew up as a global citizen. He spent time in different countries of South America before heading to college in the United States, where he now lives and works. He was exposed to a variety of food cultures and cuisines during his time traveling the world, and grew to become aware of very different food systems. Growing up with three grandparents who lived through World War II, Chupryna always recognized the importance of food insecurity. It instilled in him the value of food from a young age. So when he moved to the United States, he paid a lot of attention to the country’s food landscape.
When he moved to San Francisco, he was shocked at the dichotomy between the high price of food and the copious amounts of food waste. A fresh pressed juice was exorbitantly expensive, while affordable brands on supermarket shelves were often loaded with sugar and artificial flavoring. “As a student-athlete,” Chupryna said, “it was very tough to keep a good diet, especially a good breakfast, being on a cafeteria meal plan. Juice became a breakfast replacement and was a great way to start a day full of energy without a cup of coffee.” A sound strategy, but juice economy in San Francisco made it difficult to afford the healthy options for breakfast. Things just did not add up, and Chupryna was determined to solve the problem.
After some research, he discovered two out of five fruits and vegetables are judged to be “too ugly” to be sold in traditional supermarkets and grocery stores, causing almost a billion tons of produce to go to waste each year. It was a problem but Chupryna and his team came to an immediate solution. Why not use this so-called ugly produce to make fresh and healthy juice accessible to local consumers? Ugly Juice was born.
Ugly Juice (@DrinkUglyJuice) uses imperfect produce to make 100% fresh, cold-pressed juice every morning and deliver it directly to your home or office everyday, once a week, or once a month. Chupryna and his team hope to make an impact on produce waste and change the way that supermarkets, organizations, and individuals view ugly produce. They work with local companies to source ugly and surplus produce. When the produce arrives to the production location, Chupryna and his team choose a recipe based on what is available.
Ugly Juice uses reusable mason jars to avoid plastic, and works on a made-to-order system to avoid unnecessary production. Any surplus juice is donated to a local soup kitchen.
“Every one of our juice drinkers is an eco warrior,” says Chupryna. “Our mission is to empower them in whatever way we can to make the world a more sustainable place. Challenge the waste generating status quo of the produce industry through healthy eating.”