GUEST BLOG: Combating Climate Change Through Upcycled Candy


GUEST BLOG: Combating Climate Change Through Upcycled Candy

by: Amy Keller, Co-Founder & CEO, PurePlus | Photo Credit: PurePlus

April 12, 2022

Waste can be driven by not using food products in their entirety.  According to the ReFED Roadmap to 2030, a key action area to address byproducts and production line waste is to “Maximize Product Utilization.” This means rethinking the concept of “waste” by turning surplus and byproducts into food products through upcycling, thus finding greater value in items or parts usually deemed worthless. Guest author, Amy Keller, Co-Founder and CEO of Pure Plus+ and FAVES, shares how her experience as a seven-time Ironman athlete and a climate activist led to the creation of the first climate candy from imperfect fruits and vegetables.

When I began my company PurePlus, I was determined it would make a positive impact on people’s lives and health and the health of the planet – something that would directly and positively affect lives beyond mine, have a positive environmental impact, and make the world better off. 

The first product under PurePlus is a healthy candy called FAVES. FAVES was born from my sweet tooth and a deep desire to save fruits and veggies, and its concept was conceived on a trip to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault during a conversation about the planet's climate pledge. My background is uniquely suited to FAVES – my family is Spangler Candy Company, and we make two billion DumDum lollipops every year. I am an avid health and wellness enthusiast, a seven-time Ironman, and climate activist that set out to combine my passion for sustainability and health with the family business by creating a candy that's good for you and good for the planet.

FAVES - Climate Candy

FAVES is a “climate candy” made from upcycled fruits and vegetables and provides real nutrients from produce. Each candy contains micronutrient fibers for stealth nutrition from vegetables, including pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, carrots, and beets. Each serving of FAVES offers a full serving of fruits and vegetables. It is estimated that 90% of Americans do not eat their daily servings of fruits and veggies. FAVES makes it easy and fun to add more produce to people’s diet. FAVES has set out to help alleviate the climate crisis by preventing food waste and upcycling perfectly good fruits and vegetables to create a candy that's good for you and good for the planet.

We are dealing with excess, imperfect fruits and vegetables, and their shelf life as a fresh product is short; coming up with a process to preserve the nutrition and extend that short shelf life is critical.  Maintaining frozen products may be cost-prohibitive, so there is a growing interest in developing cost-effective preservation methods capable of minimizing degradation in processed products and retaining the nutritional content in the original fruit and vegetables. With all this information in mind, we developed our supply chain of dried and powdered veggies and fruits, which have all the qualities we need for our products’ long shelf life and high nutrition.

Drying fruits and vegetables allows us to extend shelf life and reduce the packaging, handling, transportation and storage costs associated with raw food. Moving into powder form, allows for long-term and relatively inexpensive storage. Additionally, manufacturing of powders provides an alternative use for over-produced fruit and vegetables and for the production of value-added products.

It is very important that we track the carbon footprint and sustainability of our supply chain, the health of the ecosystems that provide our ingredients, and the health of our employees and consumers throughout this process.

Going Local

FAVES works with local farms across the U.S. to procure imperfect produce that would otherwise go to waste. With each purchase of FAVES, people are saving six carrots, three beets, one sweet potato, a half squash, and a half pumpkin – all providing six servings of fruits and vegetables. Our goal next year is to upcycle 2.2 million imperfect fruits and vegetables from local farms, and every year after to double the amount saved.

It is estimated that food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate, which uses large quantities of fossil fuels and results in diminished freshness throughout the journey. On the other hand, locally sourced food provides health benefits and reassurance for consumers in knowing where the food came from and under what conditions it was grown. Moreover, with the elimination of factors including long-distance shipping, chemicals to accelerate ripening, and time spent sitting in storage, local farming produces the freshest and most flavorful fruits and vegetables available with seasonal variety. Many small family farmers have been pushed to the periphery of agriculture due to the domination of industrial food production, but buying directly from farmers allows them to make a higher economic return on produce and supports environmentally-friendly farming practices. 

Fruits and vegetables are the most wasted product and have the highest climate impact. We can minimize environmental impact by putting all these fruits and vegetables to use by utilizing the whole food with their vitamins and nutrients. We divert fruit and vegetables at risk of going to waste to reduce environmental impact and cost. And we address the barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption among consumers by being affordable, accessible, and integrating into the current lifestyle of our customers.

To get involved or learn more about this work, please visit:

Amy Keller is Co-Founder and CEO of PurePlus - a revolution in the whole plant foods based economy as part of a broader category with a lower carbon footprint, sustainable packaging and upcycled ingredients. PurePlus is the creator of FAVES climate candy. Keller believes where there is a vision the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. She has never been satisfied with status quo and PurePlus is a catalyst for change. Keller has spent her career working on environmental initiatives on climate change and is a 7 time Ironman triathlete. Contact Amy at:  [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in this guest blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect ReFED's views and opinions.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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