Imagine there was candy that was healthy for you – sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not. This is exactly what Faves candy is. This new wafer-like treat transforms imperfect fruits and vegetables into a good, wholesome confection low in sugar and calories – that also combats food waste!
The seed of the idea behind Faves (an acronym for fruits and vegetables) was planted when eco-focused entrepreneur Amy Keller, environmental activist Kevin Wall and behavioral geneticist Susan Smalley visited the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway during the winter of 2018. Inspired by the amazing collection of fruit and vegetable seeds they saw there, the three began brainstorming about ways to cut down on food waste as well as shifting people away from eating unhealthy, highly caloric food, particularly candy. While getting food to those going hungry is a major issue, it is also important this food is nutritious. A recent study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine revealed an increased risk for obesity among the food-insecure people going to food pantries.
Keller, Wall, and Smalley teamed up to create PurePlus+, a startup dedicated to creating nutritious foods that also reduce the amount of produce filling up landfills. Faves, its first product in the marketplace, epitomizes the company’s two principal goals of being good for humans and the environment. Keller describes Faves as “a delicious, healthy, candy made out of the most climate impactful, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.”
As a vegan candy, Faves contains no fillers, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors, along with being gluten-free and doesn’t contain other common allergens either. Each roll of Faves holds one whole serving of fruits and vegetables and just two total grams of sugar. Since it is made of whole fruits and vegetables, the candy is high in micronutrient fibers. Moreover, the process of making Faves is designed to maximize the ingredients’ inherent vitamins and minerals by not heating them at a high temperature that would result in destroying these nutrients. Keller, whose family runs Spangler Candy Company (famous for their Dum Dum Lollipops), wants PurePlus+ is to shake up and enrich the candy market, which yearly reaches $80 billion in sales worldwide.
Besides striving to maximize the nutritional value of its produce, Faves’ makers also want to minimize the amount of harvested but unused fruits and vegetables that get thrown out. As Keller stated to GreenSportsBlog, food waste “carries a direct global economic cost of $1 trillion” and is responsible for approximately 8 percent of global emissions. If it were a country, food waste would rank as the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Additionally, 40 percent of food becomes waste, with fruits and vegetables constituting half of that amount. This inefficiency not only contributes to world-wide pollution, but it also represents a waste of resources, money, and labor.
In its own small way, Faves candy addresses several of these problems. In addition to combating greenhouse gas emission by lowering the amount of produce dumped in landfills, it also results in the more productive use of farmland and workers’ time, improving growers’ bottom line. Similarly, PurePlus+ is concerned about keeping its carbon footprint low. Early on, the company devised a strategy of creating a network of farms in the Midwest and West Coast as its sources for second tier fruits and vegetables (produce that is not attractive enough for supermarket use).
Faves wafers also serve as a convenient replacement for fruit and vegetables in situations where it is not feasible to have fresh produce. As Keller pointed out, “Earlier this year, a few Chicago Cubs players climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and we were able to give them Faves for their backpacks. They realized they couldn’t carry any fruits and vegetables on that trip, so (Faves) became a healthy substitute.”
Faves is just the first in a line of nutritionally rich, environmentally smart products PurePlus+ has in the pipeline. On its website, you will find its version of the healthy snack bar, with featured varieties including apple, carrot, ginger & mint; blueberry, black currant & lime and banana, mango & sweet potato.
PurePlus+ is also developing a plant-based nutritional powder out of upcycled vegetables and fruits other companies can use as a healthy substitute for sugar in their products. It also represents an alternative to traditional multi-vitamins. Fruits and vegetables, in fact, are naturally designed like a time-release pill in the ways they work with fibers and antioxidants. The forward-thinking company asserts it will make perishable fruits and vegetables last three years besides offering the sustainability benefits of utilizing otherwise unwanted produce.
Although it has only been around for a few years, PurePlus+ has already accumulated accolades. It won the Environmental Media Association’s 2019 IMPACT Future Innovator of the Year Challenge and, in 2020, PurePlus+ was selected as a finalist in the Consumer Product category for the 12th annual SXSW Pitch.
Clearly, PurePlus+ has come up with some smart ideas about improving our nutrition and environment now and in the future.