Caroline Cotto insists she was destined to go into the food business. With a last name meaning “cooked” in Italian, and growing up in Sandwich, MA, I guess it's hard to argue.
And a good thing she's here, too. Caroline is cofounder and COO of Renewal Mill, a company dedicated to tackling the issue of food waste by upcycling perfectly good plant-based ingredients from tofu and plant milk production into flours, baking mixes, cookies, and crackers.
If food waste were a country, according to Cotto, its carbon footprint would be the third largest in the world, behind just the US and China. And while it's a problem globally, nobody beats the USA when it comes to wasting food: approximately 40% of what we produce, we chuck.
And while some tofu and soy milk manufacturers could sometimes sell their waste product (called okara) to hog farms (which is another issue; if you're vegan, do you really want your tofu subsidized by Big Bacon?), the heavy liquid mass is expensive to transport.
Enter Caroline and her business partner and investors. By co-locating their okara dehydration plants within the soy manufacturer's factory, they're able to convert the stuff into a light powder that can be used in gluten-free baking.
Thereby reducing waste, decreasing the carbon footprint of the transportation, and increasing the amount of vegan yumminess in the world.
In our conversation, we talked about the origins of Renewal Mill, the entrepreneurial journey Caroline and her team have been on, the challenges they're facing, and the prospects for growth, not just of Renewal Mill, but the upcycled food industry in general.
Plus how to find their products, and how to become an investor, even if you are of modest means.
Gluten-Free Flavor Flours, by Alice Medrich
You CAN Change Other People!
Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative new book of that title.
What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.
Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.
Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
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