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Researchers have discovered a new way to extract high-value protein from otherwise inedible tomato leaves. The team of researchers from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands in an area known as the “Food Valley” has developed a method to extract Rubisco from the leaves of tomatoes and possibly other food crops.

The leaves of plants like tomatoes, potatoes and cassava plants are not edible for direct consumption due to the toxins present. However, this method could reduce food waste and make it an amazing source of vegetable protein.

“Our method filters out components smaller than the protein we want to extract, which includes many toxins,” said project leader Marieke Bruins, senior scientist in protein technology at Wageningen University and Research. “Our research shows that by making better use of what you already have, you can make significant gains in sustainability.”

The researchers are the first in the world to extract the valuable Rubisco protein from tomato leaves, which is one of the major waste streams of greenhouse horticulture. The ability to extract the Rubisco protein from plants could increase the availability of plant-based proteins, and the report claims this could accelerate the transition to more plant-based diets in some developed countries. The University is a leader in protein transition and its goal is to measurably reduce meat consumption.

Source: Wageningen University and Research/Youtube

The leaves are usually either reused and put into the soil as fertilizer, or composted. However, both of these methods are low residue uses, and this new method could be another great way to get a good source of plant-based protein into the human diet.

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Learn how to cook plant-based meals at home

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