wildbrine’s Path to a Sustainable Food Cycle
Every year in the U.S., we throw away 40% of our food supply. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, homeowners, grocers and restaurants are tossing $165 billion worth of unsold, unused perishables or scraps annually. At wildbrine, we’re on a mission, not only to sell good, quality products, but also to be leaders in sustainable food, and help reduce our environmental footprint. Starting with our produce.
Sustainable Food Roots
We are two guys who love food and enjoy working with each other so much we’ve started not one, but two companies together over the past 20 or so years. In our first company, we made hummus and salsas, then moved into the fermentation business. The Santa Rosa, California-based Ceres Community Project also played a big part in how we got our start at wildbrine, thanks to a growing demand for sauerkraut, probiotics, and all things fermented.
20 Years Later
We started wildbrine in 2011, and since then, we’ve grown from two original krauts to seven unique varieties, two traditional kimchi flavors, two probiotic srirachas, two fermented salsas, and five fermented beverages called Live Shots, with more unique probiotic-rich products to come. Being a part of the sustainable food market has been the backbone of this company since the beginning – it makes sense for us, our customers, and the earth.
For us, one of the core principles of sustainability involves a focus on trying to reduce our waste by upcycling produce instead of sending it into the trash cans.
One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure
In nature, one animal’s leftovers offer another animal a meal. Working with the entire cabbage, as well as local Sonoma County farms, we’ve turned this idea into a lifestyle at wildbrine. Much of the food that gets thrown away across the world is perfectly edible, and it can be eaten as is or “changed” to provide value to others. At wildbrine, we don’t let any part of the cabbage that comes into our facility go to waste.
When we receive a box of cabbage from a farmer, the first thing we do is remove the outer layer of leaves. These are usually scuffed up and softer then the inner layers, making them less than ideal for shredding. We then take out the core of the cabbage, and both the outer leaves and the core are either used for other wildbrine products (like sriracha or Live Shots) or go into a bin with other vegetables scraps to be picked up each day by a Sonoma County farmer to feed his or her animals, like chickens, pigs, and cows.
This remaining cabbage makes its way to the shredder where it is mixed with spices, tested for optimal pH levels and then tucked away in the proper environment to ferment.
After two weeks or so, we taste test the fermented cabbage and pack it up. The leftover brine from fermented batches is also used in our Probiotic Live Shots and our sugar-free srirachas, so one cabbage can provide goodness for up to three different products. Nothing goes to waste.
Down on the Farm
The outer layers of the cabbage and the cores are donated to three different farms in Sonoma County, which change depending on need and time of year.
Right now we are excited to be partnering with:
- Buddy’s Farm in Sebastopol, helping to feed their chickens for farm-fresh eggs at local farmers markets.
- Takenoko Farms in Windsor, feeding their pigs and other livestock for sustainably-raised pork.
- Joe Matos Cheese in Santa Rosa, providing nutrients for the cows they milk to make fresh and aged cheeses.
Looking to the Future with Sustainable Food and Practices
There is always more to do when it comes to helping the environment. As we discover new technology and different ways of giving back, we will continue on our mission of being leaders in sustainable food, providing products that are delicious and good for our customers, as well as our environment.