I first met Kaitlin Mogentale at a women's networking event about a year ago. We were introduced because of our mutual love of almond pulp (of all things), and we became fast friends. If only there had been a video capturing us collectively geeking out about all the ways to reuse almond pulp...
But Kaitlin doesn't stop with almonds. She has partnered with over 200 juiceries across Los Angeles to use their leftover fruit & vegetable pulp to make her incredible line of Pulp Pantry products, which include their signature granolas. Did you know that for every pound of juice produced, as much as three to four pounds of the nutritious, fiber-rich pulp might be trashed. Until now...
Since starting Pulp Pantry only a few years ago, Kaitlin has become a force in the zero food waste movement as well as an advocate for improved food access here in LA. She is the real deal and I encourage you to check out her products online at www.pulppantry.com or your local Erewhon market!
WN: Tell us about Pulp Pantry. What is it and why did you feel like it needed to exist?
KM: Southern California is the juicing capital of the country, with nearly 200 juiceries in the area. Yet what most don't notice is that for every pound of juice produced, nearly 3 pounds of pulp go to waste. Apart from spending hundreds of dollars on monthly hauling fees, juiceries are also missing the point: pulp is a nutritious superfood with 2/3 less sugar, all of the fiber, and half the nutrients of whole fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pulp Pantry began to fill a void in the market. Few service providers were offering solutions for recycling pulp - leaving most juiceries with no choice but to toss this valuable resource. We began collecting pulp from mid-scale commercial juiceries, developing truly healthy products that help people eat more servings of fruits, vegetables and fiber. Today, we partner with juiceries to co-brand and co-market products, as well as to distribute our own line of branded items.
WN: What prompted you to start the business?
KM: I worked at the Garden School Foundation one semester in college, as a teaching assistant. I was deeply impacted by their work after witnessing kids coming into the garden, learning to love vegetables as they grew them from seed to sprout. In school, french fries and tomato sauce on pizza counted as a daily serving of vegetables. The garden became an oasis for kids to learn and literally grow a new relationship with food and health.
During that same semester, I was at a friend's house and witnessed her juicing a carrot. I was shocked to see how much pulp byproduct was produced - and she had no idea what to do with it! I salvaged the pulp, making carrot cookies back at home. They were delicious.... so I wondered what other juiceries around LA were doing with their pulp. Turns out, the answer was nothing. It was going to the landfill. And thus, my brain started whizzing with ideas on how to upcycle the pulp into nutritious food that could help inspire the next generations to eat and live healthier, establish a more positive relationship with fruits and vegetables.
WN: What about running this business lights you up?
KM: EVERYTHING. Well, aside from accounting. I am so happy connecting with amazing entrepreneurs (hi Blair!) in the health and wellness space, feeling inspired to collaborate and support one another.
WN: What has been the most unexpected part of starting/running Pulp Pantry?
KM: Marrying profit and purpose - it's not easy. Sometimes the things that make the most sense from an impact-oriented focus don't make sense to drive revenue. It's a constant negotiation between the things that will sustain my passion for the mission while also ensuring that our resources are spent wisely on things that will create long-term sustainability and success as a business.
WN: What does food equality mean to you?
Food equality means that no one be obstructed from their right to obtain healthy, nourishing food (which establishes the foundation for a healthy life). It means that there is equal access to the resources, knowledge, and vendors to grow/purchase nourishing food, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic standing or geographic location.
WN: What’s one habit or routine you do that makes you feel whole- physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually?
KM: Each morning, the first hour of my day is reserved for me - to meditate, make a nourishing breakfast, tea, write, read, whatever I need to do to get my head on straight for the day. It's the only hour that I can be absolutely sure to dedicate to myself, but I will say that it makes a huge difference. Writing and tracking my growth and learning has been huge - and has helped me to appreciate the small wins while reconnecting to the big picture.