Co-founder & CEO of the Upcycled Food Association, Crested Butte, Colorado.
When Turner was 22, he co-founded Denver Food Rescue, a food recovery nonprofit dedicated to health equity and reducing food waste. Since then he has co-founded several other nonprofits and social enterprises that focus on food use. Now, Turner is using the skills and experiences he has gained to design an organization that intends to eliminate food waste entirely. Turner is currently co-founder and CEO for the Upcycled Food Association, a global network of businesses that upcycle otherwise wasted food into products and services that people buy. This consumer driven approach will reduce food waste by enlarging the size of the upcycled food economy. Turner hopes that the economic growth created by this budding industry can be leveraged to create social equity.
Turner is a recipient of the 2020 Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag award and took some time to share with us what the past 12 months have meant to him.
Emerging Leaders in Food & Ag (EL): Tell us a little about what you’ve been up to in the last 6-12 months? How (if at all) did 2020 and all its unexpected craziness influence your work?
Turner Wyatt (TW): Over the last 12 months I’ve been busy helping to build a scalable, consumer-led movement to prevent food waste. I also live in a mountain town, so I’ve been lucky enough to spend lots of time outside, where I am less likely to spread Covid, and more likely to have fun… I hope I’m not the only food tech CEO who skis 100 days a year! Through my partner with the Upcycled Food Association, I have been lucky enough to work with more than 130 businesses across 20 countries building a food system with less waste. It’s gratifying work, especially now that Project Drawdown has listed reducing food waste as the top solution to global warming.
EL: What lessons have you learned that you are taking into 2021?
TW: Did 2020 teach anyone else just how fragile everything is? Our economy, our food system, it’s all just sitting on a house of cards. Now that we’re rebuilding I hope we can do so with a stronger foundation, one that’s better in tune with the frequency of the natural environment. As a mentor of mine said, “you plant a seed, you get 10,000 more seeds!” Why don’t food businesses act more like food itself??
EL: What’s next for you?
TW: In 2021, people all over the world will be seeing many more upcycled products. That’s because we’re launching the first upcycled food certification, which will help consumers find products that prevent food waste, as well as quantify the impact of purchasing upcycled products. Everyone is already buying food, why not give these purchases the ability to contribute to the best solution to climate change? We hope you will start seeing products (some new, some you already love) with the upcycled certification by summertime.
EL: What gives you hope for the next year? Or, alternatively, what is your greatest hope for the next year?
TW: People already see their driving habits and their energy usage as having an impact on the environment. I hope 2021 is the year that many more people see their food purchases as their most potent vote for the climate and environment they want.