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Vegetable ice cream: clever consumption or crime against frozen dessert?

Humble vegetables ignited hot debate this week when ice cream featuring pumpkin and cauliflower was served to more than 3000 people at the nation’s annual Hort Connections event in Adelaide.

The two bespoke gelato flavors - cauliflower-vanilla bean and pumpkin-ginger bread - are harmonious savory-meets-sweet flavor combinations. With one serve of veggies in every two scoops, the gelatos are not only delicious but highly nutritious.

The offering was developed through the not-for-profit Research and Development Corporation Hort Innovation in partnership with a grower-owned vegetable waste company Nutri-V. The pumpkin and cauliflower that would be otherwise lost to the supply chain are transformed into a nutritious powder that can be added to a range of meals and drinks and even ice cream.

Hort Innovation chief executive officer Brett Fifield said that finding innovative ways to reduce food waste while also encouraging consumers to eat more fruits, vegetables, and nuts is an increasing industry priority.

“Research shows that 96 percent of the population do not eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day – which is five to six serves,” Mr. Fifield said. “Ice cream is a popular dessert, why not get a health boost through it.”

“Less than one percent of hard vegetables, such as pumpkin and cauliflower, are consumed as desserts – maybe this is an untapped market.”

Raquel Said from the grower-led initiative explains that the Nutri V powders were born from a farming business with a passion for innovation and sustainability.

“Part of growing veggies can involve ending up with tonnes that do not meet retail specification, or there is an oversupply or excess stalks and leaves, yet it is all still perfectly nutritious,” she said.

“We upcycle that waste into a sustainable yet delicious solution. This ice cream features reimagined vegetables. It is the future of helping Australians top up their veggie consumption while supporting farmers to reduce waste.”

Research shows that:

  • On average, two to three in every 10 vegetable plants planted on-farm are wasted. The amount of food that is lost, or what is left behind in the field, such as leaves and stalks, has not been measured.
  • According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the standard Australian serve of vegetables is 75 grams or around half a cup of cooked vegetables, which is equivalent to 7g of Nutri V powder.
  • According to the Hort Stats Handbook, 57 percent of households buy cauliflower, and 69 percent of households buy pumpkins.

The ice cream builds on previous work undertaken between Hort Innovation, Nutri V, and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, that developed the innovative vegetable powders.

For more information:
Hort Innovation

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