USDA Scientist Invents New Uses for Produce

Sometimes food scraps can turn into gold. Tara McHugh, of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has overseen this alchemy as director of ARS’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California. Over the course of her career, McHugh has investigated ways to take food-processing waste and turn it into value-added products, such as fruit bars, vegetable crisps and even edible films made from produce.

Each year, the United States generates more than 62 million tons of food waste. Nearly half of that (42 percent) is lost by manufacturers and consumer-facing businesses.

“A good deal of waste is generated in the [food-processing] stage,” said McHugh. “That’s one of the reasons it’s important to conduct this research.”

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