Eco depression: that mood you get when you hear depressing stats about the planet. The cure: Become an activist. Kaitlin Mogentale describes why she founded a company that upcycles juice pulp and charts a future with less food waste.
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In this interview recorded in a studio before the pandemic, Kaitlin Mogentale tells host Ivy Joeva of the journey that led to create a food company that transforms upcycled ingredients — the overlooked, nutritional byproducts of fruit and vegetable processing — into wholesome, better for people and better for the planet, pantry staples: Pulp chips. Waste Less, Thrive More, is the company motto, because Pulp Pantry believes that a thriving humanity depends on a thriving, healthy planet.
KAITLIN: For me, I’ve never been someone who’s like driven by money necessarily, so it was really easy for me to be like, yeah, I’m going to, I’m going to figure this out.
And I know like what the sacrifices are. I’m not in a rush to have a family. I’m not like, I don’t have that outside pressure from my, my family that, you know, you may get married and settle, settle down. And you know, I never had that as a, as a goal. But I do see that a lot of my friends, like I want to have the baby in the next few years and I want to have a family and I needed like financial security to do that.
So I feel like it’s more of that survival instinct of this is how I’ve always determined that my life was going to look. And if I do something that veers me off that path, like
IVY: it’s going to take me off track.
KAITLIN: How is that going to set me off? So even though they might value a lot of the things that. And they’re like, I, I’m so jealous of just the fact that you get to spend your days doing something you’re passionate about.
It’s like at the same time, I wouldn’t be able to give up the kind of the pursuits that I have. So, and I still, I kind of see that side of it too.
IVY: I remember reading about how you were in your test kitchen on the weekends. Dehydrating pounds and pounds of pulp. like, I’m like, I bet your friends weren’t super jealous of that
KAITLIN: I feel like I’m still recovering from a lot of them. Like sometimes I’m like, even today when I came in here, I was like, I need coffee. It’s really weird, but sometimes I’m just like. You kind of push yourself to so hard, but it, we, we, we exist in cycles. So I kind of started realizing like, I went really hard for like [NOISE] three years and I’m kind of seeing the end of that now, where the past year has felt like I just needed to slow down, which honestly has been really beneficial.
But at the same time, it’s been kind of hard because I remember. I just look back at like what it was two years ago, even what I was doing with my time and I’m like, I could never do that again. I feel like, you know, you have to put in the work, but
KAITLIN: But it’s definitely meant for like a certain time in your life or a certain naivete that you don’t even know what any difference because yeah. That was, and it was also not the smartest use of my time, but no regrets.
IVY: Well, you had something pulling you like, I feel like, you know. Victor Frankl talks about that in man’s search for meaning. It’s like when you have a purpose in the world, you can endure anything. And so it feels like you just so deeply believed in what you were doing and looking back, you’re like, Oh my God, how did I do that? It’s kind of like after giving birth, women are like, I will never do that again.
IVY: And then when they’re pregnant again, they were like, okay. you know?
KAITLIN: Somehow, I found myself in that situation again. It’s kind of interesting. I feel like. There always has been for me. Cause I mean the idea itself, and I’m totally, I’m just like, this idea is so quirky and weird and just kinda, but it’s really frivolous to, in a way like I think that it stands for something bigger, but on the surface, if you just look at it and you’re like, I’m turning juice pulp into snacks, then yeah. Like it’s a very frivolous surface level kind of way to, to talk about bigger issues. But that’s how I’ve always seen it. And I think it’s hard because I know that a lot of people will look at it and be kind of like. Like, you know, when I was in the kitchen to hydrating pounds of pulp and spending like my friends were like, why are you not giving yourself a weekend?
Like what are you doing? And it’s hard because they just see it in and. They just kind of, they’re like, you’re just, you’re making pulp snacks. Like what? Why are you so attached to this? But I think that it is because, you know, we all have, I mean, it is like that broader vision of. What does it say? Like what, what kind of values are being stated in the world through the act of doing this and how will, for me it’s always been like, how does consumer packaged goods and brand? How do brands as an as a, just like an entity of change, and affect culture? And I think that’s what’s really interesting is that a lot of, you know, you look at like nonprofits, I mean, how much scope does a nonprofit have? verses like a Coca Cola or a you know, a general mills, because they have consumer eyes, whereas a nonprofit, it’s like how,
IVY: There’s no, it’s an uphill battle to get eyeballs. Yeah.
KAITLIN: And so I always felt like building a brand was the best way that you can communicate values. That could be stated through a nonprofit too. Like the Slow Factory. I mean, they’re doing great job. They have all these eyes on their Instagram account or whatever. They’re spreading awareness and knowledge, but I just —
IVY: But you’re getting in people’s mouths like you’re getting in there, you know?
KAITLIN: Yeah. It’s like participatory in a way.
IVY: It’s almost subversive. It’s kind of like your, I mean, this might not be your intention, but it’s almost like you’re getting in there into people’s taste buds and replacing their Doritos with something. Plant based and it’s like a way to just rewire the whole
KAITLIN: I mean, it just creates, it’s kind of like we’re creatures where you’ve just been brought up to be creatures of convenience. And I think the problem, even for starting Pulp Pantry, I didn’t really realize this until probably last year, but I mean, I always knew it, but I never like realized it was that obviously what you’re doing like has to taste good and it can’t be something that people feel they’re compromising on just the indulgence factor.
IVY: Nobody’s going to eat cardboard to save the planet.
KAITLIN: Exactly. So, and I mean, there might be a few people who will do that. Right? But like for the most part, I just knew it was going to have such a limited impact. And I think last year was really the turning point for me, where I realized if I want to make this something bigger that actually has like a mainstream platform, you know, and can actually go into like a target or a, a big major retailer. It’s going to have to compete on the Doritos level for in taste. And that’s the only way that you’re going to get people to swap, you know, swap staples and kind of like take taking new ideas is because it just. There’s no compromise on that, that kind of value. So it was kind of interesting just cause I basically scrapped like all of the products that we had created in the past, and they were all fun things that I was doing in the kitchen. There were great ways to explore using a new ingredient. And you know, now I feel like I can talk about pulp and be like, I know my way around juice pulp.
Anyone’s got like, you know, but it only, you have to go through those learnings. But now I’m like, thank God that I. Don’t have to be in the stage of like dehydrated granola is made from pulp. Cause those were, those were pretty gnarly.
IVY: You probably have a whole team formulating …
KAITLIN: Yeah. So now we have, we worked with food scientists who develop the product. So I finally was like, I’m not the best person to do product development. I eat weird stuff and you know, it’s not, it’s not going to ever make it. the pioneer.
But I realized, I was like, you need people who are. The junk food eaters to understand how to kind of develop all the products and flavors.
So there was a team of food scientists who help us with, with all the products, but they were honestly just undergrads from Cal poly Pomona, and they, they were just like students who had a passion for food waste. So I found them through a food waste product development competition, and they developed the product.
And then of course. Ben, my manufacturer. So the manufacturer already has all the proceeds in place to make tortilla chips. Traditionally using a fresh ingredient is new to them. So most manufacturers I talked to were like, we will not touch fresh ingredients because thinking about how our foods, like all of our packaged food is built, it’s, it’s, it’s just dry.
Yeah. Dry flour ingredients, which is kind of why the food system has also evolved and food manufacturing has evolved the way it has. It’s like, it’s just the cheapest way. Most convenient, most fastest, fastest way to produce things. So when you bring fresh ingredients into the mix, it was kind of, I mean, I even was a little worried. I was like, you know, I talked to somebody that we’re like, we’ve never done that. I don’t really think that’s possible. You’re or you’re going to have to transform the ingredient into a powder in order to use an I was, for me, I was like the one, one of the things I don’t want to do is how the additional processing of turning. Produce into powders because I feel like you’re not, it’s not digested the same way. It’s not going to be the first ingredient on the label and all that. But anyways, the point is find a manufacturer and then someone who was entrepreneurial and was like, we’ll give it a shot
IVY: And they were willing to do it without making a powder.
KAITLIN: Yeah. And they were willing to work with me to figure it out. And he had like four tests, production runs.
and I’m actually doing my first full scale production run. So we did, we did a production run where we produced like 7,000 bags.
KAITLIN: And now we’re doing production on where we produce like 30,000 bags. So it’s, it’s scary, you know, every step you’re, you’re continuing to like see like, okay, as we continue to expand, can, can this model work at scale? I think it’s going to be, I mean, I think it’s going to be okay.
IVY: What’s the feedback been like in terms of just everyday people who aren’t health nuts like we are, like tasting it?
KAITLIN: People would never know that there’s vegetables inside the product. It has to have fiber and it has to be like a substantial amount of fiber because I feel like that’s the main thing that’s lacking in American diets.
IVY: It’s like say like 7% of people get enough fiber.
KAITLIN Exactly. And same with vegetables. It’s like 10% of us eat our daily servings of fruits and vegetables. So I was like, if I’m gonna make a chip, that’s truly. Kind of living in line with the values of not just sustainability but also health and bring better nutrition. It has to be something that’s got a lot of fiber in And we did the nutritional testing after our production run, it has like five times the fiber of —
KAITLIN: A tortilla chip. So a bag of chips is your day serving a fiber. And that was for me, like the big, that was the big pull for me cause I was like, it’s not going to be. Because it’s not going to be significant in terms of the nutritionals. Then, you know, why am I doing it other than just have a story on a package, which is a part of it, but it’s not the whole complete
IVY: Yeah. Well that’s like, part of it is like the health benefits, you know, too, like the obesity crisis in the United States with kids eating all this crap packaged crap, but then there’s the other side of it of like, you’re actually using food waste. I’m curious, when you started pulp pantry. Did you know that food waste was one of the top contributors to climate change?
KAITLIN: No. I mean, I honestly, you know, I did, I was an environmental studies student, so I, we had done all of our, like studies on agriculture and I mean, I knew that food production in general was very resource intensive and I knew about water pollution and air pollution and all the things that happened because of the way that we produce our food.
But food waste was not the hot topic that it is today. And I feel like we didn’t have data around food waste so. There wasn’t really a measurable way that we were talking about. We were talking about food waste. It was kind of like in, it’s, I think we have general, you know, general understanding of how much food is being wasted.
But I think in the past like three years. It’s just, that’s really where we’ve gotten so much of this to become more mainstream
IVY: Yeah, it’s become part of the conversation.
KAITLIN: But I guess the way the place that I saw food waste was more on the micro level of, of, you know, I was more passionate about, in general, I was passionate about living a zero-waste life. And I think any of us who see all the stuff that comes in packages, like I was just in Europe and I was blown away because I was like, go to the grocery store. There’s one option for your
IVY: Okay. Yeah, there’s one.
KAITLIN: option for your, you know, your jams or whatever else. Here, it’s like we have grocery stores with hundreds of thousands of products on the shelf.
Everything is packaged and there’s really no convenient way to buy things without packaging. So I was more passionate about like, how do we reduce waste in general in our life? And then, kind of through just that own my own practice of doing that and becoming a vegan and having to learn to cook and, you know, just struggling my way through all that.
Then I found, you know, I was working in urban garden and became. Passionate about more people eating more fruits and vegetables in their diet. Cause I saw kids were not eating fruits and veggies. And so through kind of all of these experiences, I ended up at my friend’s house and that’s when I saw her juice a carrot.
And because I valued, because I had this vision for myself of like, I don’t want to live. With waste and I want to produce less trash in it. I’m concerned about that for our future. And then also seeing that, wow, so many people are not getting their servings of fruits and vegetables, and it’s actually affecting mental health.
It’s affecting the way they’re able to perform in school. And then to go to a friend’s house and see the added layer of, Oh my goodness, and someone who has access to these resources is throwing it
IVY: Throwing it away.
KAITLIN: And so it was like all of those experiences together. That was kind of that moment for me where it’s like literally seeing her do that was.
I’d never seen waste just in front of my face like that, I guess. And I think if you, even if you think about our food manufacturing, none of us know where our food comes from or how much waste is produced or what the byproducts of that production are. Like, if you think about buying juice, I mean, you don’t really see a Juicery with like pulp coming out of the machine.
You just see juice bottles on the shelf or you see like a chamber. You don’t really know what’s happening on the other end of it. So I feel like to watch someone juice at home was just this moment of full transparency that we don’t have in our food system today. And so it was like that kind of micro just moment that you know. Then I called all these juicers and I’m like, what are you guys do with your pulp? Because I saw this thing and that’s when I realized that every single person was throwing it away. There was no option for them to compost unless they were going to pay 400 bucks a month for a small business.
They’re like, can’t afford that extra expense
IVY: They would actually have to pay to be responsible with their waste.
KAITLIN: Yeah. or it was like, try to find a farmer that will pick it up. But what farmer wants to drive to LA and struggle through traffic to pick up some compost? Like there’s no, so it was just one of those things where I started to realize, but I think it’s like 2% of all of our waste food waste.
And human waste that’s produced in cities gets recycled in some way. So 98% of it actually goes to waste.
IVY: And I heard that like 50%. Of the waste in landfills is food waste. So, which is so tragic because here it is in a landfill producing methane gas. When if we could compost it, it could actually be healing.
KAITLIN: Yeah, exactly. I mean, but it’s just like the infrastructure is not like we just built our cities without thinking circularly like we were just it. I mean it’s such a, it’s so true. And this is, I feel like you’ve definitely heard this, but “take, make, waste,” That is just our model. And I think if you look at LA like the city was, I, I’m always shocked just by how it was planned. So it was like planned to be unlivable in a way. I’m like, why? Why is the, why are things this way?
IVY: This is an example of what not to do.
KAITLIN: Exactly. Cause I mean. Yeah, it was, it’s just very strange. And I think that the side of it where of like, where does all of the waste go was an afterthought and it wasn’t built into the design of our cities.
So now we’re kind of struggling with, shoot, we have all this infrastructure, but none of it is meant to actually think responsibly about our outputs. But also if you think about it, I guess like, I mean, if you look thousands of years ago or even hundreds of years ago, or even like decades ago. People weren’t producing as much trash or waste.
IVY: People weren’t drinking celery juice. Every morning. So I, when I, when I was, you know, looking at what you’re up to, I was curious. You must just have a heart attack looking at the celery juice craze. However, do you have a plan for celery pulp?
KAITLIN: I kind of think about it. I’m like, we can drink juice, but there’s so much we can do with the pulp too, you know? And I think I love working with larger manufacturers because they have a little bit more ability to get. Creative with their waste. Cause maybe they’re producing millions of pounds of pulp a year.
IVY: Wow. Yeah. Millions of pounds. Oh my God.
KAITLIN: Oh my gosh. It’s crazy. But at the same time it’s like now you have a lot more volume and now you can talk to farmers.
Now you can talk to the commercial composters cause that’s more, that’s more manageable to handle. But it also might cost them. Like I, I know at least. there’s a food processor that does the Apple slices, let’s say, for McDonald’s, and they’re paying maybe like $1 million a year for a composting contract, it’s expensive, but I think when you’re producing waste on that scale, obviously it becomes kind of a priority to be like, I’m not just gonna. You can’t just landfill that. I think even like with regulations; you can’t just landfill that.
IVY: So they’re having to get creative.
KAITLIN: They’re having to get creative in ways, and I think it’s hard because either you’re paying for, like you’re paying for composting service, you have a relationship with a farm and you’re rely on that to be someone who can come pick up.
You know, truckloads of pulp or whatever else. So I feel like that’s kind of where I saw the cause as I was scaling, like I worked with urban juicers, which is really where a lot of the waste occurs. Right? Like we talked about, none of that is getting composted or sent to animal feed. But when I look at larger scale manufacturers, I think the biggest benefit is like the consistency and the food safety benefits, but also that’s, you know, for me.
But then also for them telling a story about the fact that. This is really high quality organic produce that we were struggling to find a resource for. And now we have a way that we’re actually turning into value added products that go back to feeding people. And so it’s just kind of like the highest and best use for those ingredients.
IVY: So you’ve graduated from, cause at one point in your company you were driving around to these hundreds of kind of independent juicers and now you’ve moved on from that and you’re sourcing from the bigger scale.
KAITLIN: think for the first like year and a half, I had three ish local juice partners that were producing. Enough volume where I could get what I needed to just like do the farmer’s markets and do some small retail operations in Los Angeles. But as I looked to say, I want to expand, I was like, what are my options?
And I actually connected with the Juicery who wanted to do a private label product for their stores, called project juice. And so we did like granolas for them made from their pulp, but they, that was kind of actually the aha moment for me. I was like, Oh my goodness. It’s not just individual juicers, but there’s co-packers and co-manufacturers.
Who might be making many different brands and then putting it into one facility. So the efficiency there is obviously a lot greater. And so I started working with project juice and kind of realized, Oh, I can find larger manufacturers that. Where this model still holds up and then it will makes it so that my life is less crazy.
IVY: So how big a problem is food waste? Cause you said, you know, for you it was more like an emotional thing. You saw this and you knew it was a problem, but as you’ve learned more, is this something that people need to be concerned about in the big conversation.
KAITLIN: I know like food production in general is 26% of our greenhouse gas emissions. And like you talked about, I mean, our landfills are full of 50% food.
KAITLIN: [And we know that. When food decomposes in the landfill, it produces methane gas, which is one of the most potent greenhouse gas emissions. So it’s kind of, I mean, it’s all interrelated, but I feel like when I think about food waste, it’s not just the, it’s not just what’s been wasted, but it’s actually thinking about like the full picture of all of the resources that went into producing our food.
And that’s like the labor, the water, the fertilizers, the transportation. There’s just so much that goes into producing our food and for 30% of it to be going to waste each year is, I mean, it’s like 30 to 40% some people say 40% and I think that that’s kind of just the slap in the face where it’s like we, why?
Why can we not put value on the full food chain and understand that, you know, everything that we have at our disposal is, it’s super important.
KAITLIN: 19:40 I have so many stats that I would love to. Share it with you.
IVY: oh, lay em on me. Let’s talk some stats. Did you say 26% of greenhouse gas emissions,
KAITLIN: Global greenhouse gas emissions
IVY: Are from the production of food?
KAITLIN: Just the industry in general.
IVY: Is that agriculture that includes like processed food.
KAITLIN: It would include the full picture of just food transportation, all that.
KAITLIN: I know it’s crazy. I’ve been doing a lot of writing for pulp also, and it’s funny cause like sometimes I go back a step and I don’t really think about, I guess I’m not doing the research every day anymore because I’m kind of focused on let’s distribute some pulp chips now. But I go back and I start, you know, reading the most recent research, and I’m always sitting there and I’m like, Oh my goodness. It just gets you riled up. You’re like, Oh my goodness.
IVY: [00:21:47] It’s, it’s horrifying. And I wanted to ask you about that because I know when you were in college, you and your classmates kind of coined the term eco depression.
KAITLIN: [00:21:55] Yeah.
IVY: [00:21:55] So you were feeling depressed.
KAITLIN: [00:21:58] this was my friend Steven, who is, he was an environmental studies major with an economics degree. I think he’s doing his PhD in economics. and he. Just basically like his whole thesis was written about eco depression and how in studies like international relations and environmental studies, like the whole kind of, and I, I definitely felt this was a lot of the coursework is so related to the problems and not focused enough on solutions that you start to sit there and be like, I’m one person. You know, sitting in this classroom learning about these global issues and it feels really intense. It starts to feel intangible. You start to — just
IVY: [00:22:32] Just what can I even do that?
KAITLIN: [00:22:33] What can I even do? Like it doesn’t, it’s not empowering. It was really dis-empowering and I think it’s important to learn about the issues, but I F I feel like what, you know, what we were talking about, which is activism, and it’s important to inspire activism as well, even in small ways, just people just to keep morale there. Hope is such a big thing. So you need that.
IVY: [00:22:50] Well, we do need hope, but at the same time, I feel like so many people, including myself sometimes ask the question like, this problem is so big. What’s the point of me taking my bike to work? Or me making my carrot pulp cookies when everybody else is throwing tons and tons away.
Like so. What would you say to those people that are questioning whether an individual action can really make a difference in such a big problem
KAITLIN: [00:23:17] when it comes to that. And I’m such a blind optimist in every way, like even, you know. But I think that when I try to focus on the quantitative, like what does that impact really amount to it kind of, that to me is less important than I think the cultural implications of doing that. And I feel like that’s just like an act of rebellion. You’re riding your bike to work and it’s actually. Like whether you realize it or not, inspiring so many people around you and also cha like it’s, it’s leading to a major cultural shift because the more people that are on the road in their bikes, it just kind of,
IVY: [00:23:49] it’s revolutionary.
KAITLIN: [00:23:50] It’s revolutionary. And I feel like those are the ways that we can’t really quantify how our everyday rebellious acts or like our everyday activism actually leads to such greater change. But I’m seeing that just through. [CLICK] I mean through my lens or through social media, it’s like it starts really small, and even if, I think about three years ago when I started this, no one was talking about upcycling or food waste. And now because it’s like there’s just been a few brands or a few people who’ve really started to make that their platform every like, it just feels
IVY: [00:24:19] Like it mushrooms.
KAITLIN: [00:24:20] It’s everywhere. Of course, I’m living in this world, but I think. It’s expanded so much that I have roommates who maybe never, you know, last year would have ever had like food waste on their mind or upcycling or zero waste are all of a sudden now shopping and zero waste stores to buy a thing.
So I kind of see it in these, these ways where it just kind of is those little things that we do that really do have a cultural implication. I think that’s where the big greatest impact is.
IVY: [00:24:43] I love what you’re saying about like how it actually shifts the culture, because when a culture shifts. That’s when it reminds me of when I was a student at Berkeley. We had, I wasn’t a part of it, but
KAITLIN: [00:24:56] I wanted to go to Berkeley. I
IVY: [00:24:57] it was pretty
KAITLIN: [00:24:58] I was like,
IVY: [00:25:00] It was pretty awesome. I hear it’s not quite the same as when I was there, but I remember they had this, group of bikes.
It was like people on bikes called and they called it critical mass. Have you heard of this? Where they would ride out into the street, like in rush hour in the Bay area, like on the Bay bridge, and they just all take over the entire street with their bikes and it was called critical mass with the idea of like, okay, one person riding their bike.
I feel like just one person. What difference am I making? But then you get a group of hundreds of people, which isn’t that many. Riding out into the middle of the bridge and now you’ve stalled traffic and people are noticing. It’s actually, so, it’s obviously really controversial because people weren’t happy about the inconvenience, but it was like this kind of like radical act of like, wake up, you know?
KAITLIN: [00:25:42] Yeah. I feel, I feel like that’s just the most, I was just the most powerful thing that any of us do. It’s like if you do something different or you do something, that kind of feels futile, but.
Has some passion or or S, you know, I mean, being vegan was, is like the ultimate example of that. I went vegan and. People get mad at me. Same way as this critical mass, like riding the bikes out because my friends are like, this is such an inconvenience. Where can we go to eat at? And that was at first.
IVY: [00:26:09] And then they also, I feel like guilt is also something that makes people angry because they’re like, I don’t want to have to reconcile my cognitive dissonance around this. How dare you make me feel bad about what I’m doing?
KAITLIN: [00:26:19] That’s exactly why I went vegan. I was like cognitive dissonance. I was like, I cannot say that I care about these things and not do something. In my everyday life that is working in light of those values, and I am not a militant vegan. I don’t think everyone has to go vegan. I don’t think that’s the answer I like. I have such a kind of stance on it, which is just for me. That’s how I feel. Good. And I know that some people . That’s not going to be the way that they do it. Maybe it’s reducing meat consumption. Maybe it’s some other means, but it was really interesting just I saw the way I. Like it had an impact on people and it had an effect, but it also started a conversation going.
So that’s kind of where I was like, wow, my one decision that should only influence me or effect me. It’s actually affecting everyone.
And I, I’ve, I mean at this point I’ve converted like seven or eight vegans, you know, in my, in my circle of friends and my whole family. I grew up in the Midwest, like we were very Italian family, eating, you know, pastas and pizzas and all of the, all of the dairy and all of the meats.
And I go home now and it’s like only nondairy milks and only non-dairy yogurts. And it’s insane cause I see it and I’m like, wow, I am not even here. I’m not even present there. Back in Chicago still. And I’m like. But they’re living this lifestyle and they’re, they’re doing it on their own. They’re not. It’s not like I’m influencing them, but I think people just start to think more critically about their own. And I know that people have done that for me. It’s like someone tells me one of the practices that they’ve implemented in their life, and I’m like, Oh, I should really, actually, that’s really cool.
I’d never even thought that that was something I could do.
IVY: [00:27:46] Well, and they taste it and they realize it tastes better. Like my aunt is a backup singer for Jimmy Buffet. And so she would go on tour all over the world. And she was vegan. She is vegan. And you know, this was a tour that was like meat and potatoes, like, you know, some of them are Jamaican and like lot of meat going on. Right. But she would like, you know, go to the farmer’s market and make her fresh guacamole on the tour bus.
And one by one people started just being like, Oh, can I have a taste of that? And one by one they started eating her meals cause they look better than whatever they were eating.
KAITLIN: [00:28:17] felt better. They were like, Oh God, now I don’t have to feel like a food coma after I eat. ike I
IVY: [00:28:21] And one by one people started converting on the tour.
KAITLIN: [00:28:24] It is amazing. I feel like that’s so much more tangible. It’s just so much more tangible to, for people to be like, Oh, I see someone doing that.
IVY: [00:28:30] Well, you’re talking about like being an inspirator, right? Cause I think so often as, as activist, the word activist conscious, this idea of someone who has to give up their life and go, you know.
Be out in a, in a boat with Greenpeace risking your life.
KAITLIN: [00:28:45] Yeah.
IVY: [00:28:45] You know, and, and what you’re talking about is making a small change in your daily life that can create that ripple effect. And even though it might be a seemingly small change, it’s a radical statement. That’s like part of the movement that’s changing our culture and changing the conversations.
KAITLIN: [00:29:01] Yeah. I think it’s so important, like it just to not, I mean, if you’re not inclusive, if we’re not inclusive in any of these. Ideas or concepts that we’re bringing forward. It’s, I mean, I have friends who are like that, the radical vegan or whatever, you know, and I think that’s great, but it’s also, I see the effect it has on other people and it only makes you close off or turn away.
IVY: [00:29:18] Like a backlash.
KAITLIN: [00:29:19] Yeah. Because a lot of people aren’t like, no one wants, some people don’t want to live on a boat, and some people don’t want to, you know, go work for Greenpeace or risk their life. They just want to, you know, they have other, other, another agenda, but they still want to be living in line with their values. So I think it’s the more that we can make it like a really simple, every day. Action. I mean, I just know that for me. The simple act of just being like, okay, I’m going to, I think I’m going to go vegan led to 10 million other different actions that I do every day.
IVY: [00:29:47] What are some of those?
KAITLIN: [00:29:49] I mean, a part of it was, okay, so I’m cooking for myself. Oh wait. Like now I’m starting to realize all the packaging waste that comes from, I’m going in the supermarket, I’m buying all my groceries.
Like where are other ways that I can buy my groceries?
IVY: [00:30:00] Like buying bulk, and …
KAITLIN: [00:30:01] oh, if I go, I could go get a CSA box from my local farm, or I could, you know, start, start buying in bulk. Like I can start to think about, wait, how do I bring meals to go so that I’m not, you know, in this place where I’m stuck and I had to find like a vegan meal somewhere where there’s no vegan food. So it kind of started to make, it’s like self-reliance, in a way
IVY: [00:30:18] Radical self reliance.
KAITLIN: [00:30:19] I think think so. And I think, and I know so many friends that do their own, like. Apothecary and they make their own like home, you know, beauty care products or they make their own house cleaning products. And
IVY: [00:30:28] I love that movement,
KAITLIN: [00:30:30] but I think it all comes from a lot of it comes from them starting with a diet or like starting with one other thing that kind of brought their awareness onto, like for me, becoming vegan brought my awareness into, wow, why is it that our food system is the way it is? Like why is that so hard for me to find. Fresh vegetables or why is this so hard for me to buy groceries without having all those packs? Like I just kind of creates that snowball effect where you start to, and then it goes outside of your diet into different parts of your life. I mean, for me, like buying clothing, you know, that’s another thing that I’m like, I will not buy new clothing unless I really have to,
IVY: [00:31:05] Yes. that’s such a problem. The fashion industry.
KAITLIN: [00:31:09] Yeah. cause then you start to realize, I mean that was not something that I was ever really thinking about actively. But then all of a sudden through my diet started getting interested and I was like, wait, what also was happening with the fashion industry? And then, you know, we read all the stats about the wastefulness or the resources that go into producing our clothes.
And you’re like, okay, well here’s another thing I got to add into my, you know, my add add into my regimen.
IVY: [00:31:28] So looking at all of these changes, what would you say? Cause you’ve really like, you’re walking the walk, right? What would you say is the one most important thing people could do if they were just going to identify one change that they could do? Cause you know, again, I think this problem is so massive that it can create a little bit of paralysis.
KAITLIN: [00:31:48] Yeah.
IVY: [00:31:48] So what would you say to people to combat that …
KAITLIN: [00:31:50] you’re not going to like this answer, but I feel like the biggest thing for me has been just a mindset shift. And so because I think. People could look at it as like, Oh, I don’t want to go, you know, one, one act of like, I’m going to go vegan.
But actually taking a step, even back a little bit more to be like, when I put creative constraints on my life, like things that are hard to do at first, it actually leaves the way for so much more creativity because I think that what I’ve realized is that yes, it was really hard to go vegan and like I remember for two months I was dying to have a Turkey burger or something like, it was really weird. I just craved a Turkey burger, but then it became really fun, like it actually became something where instead of having a negativity of like I’m being constrained. And limited and I’m suffering. It was like, wait, but I’m discovering all these new things.
So I feel like we almost, when we think about what we can each do as individuals, it’s almost like taking a step back to be like, how do I shift my mindset to be like, I’m exploring a new space. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s going to be fun and I’m going to get curious and I’m just going to like do it to learn and not really having a destination in mind.
Or like maybe even for, for. People. It’s hard to just imagine I have to do this for the rest of my life. It’s like, no, you, what if your goal was just to learn something in the process and kind of open up new habits or rituals? I felt like it would just be so much more fun for everyone to kind of try to like try on veganism.
It doesn’t mean that because you’re doing vegan for a month doesn’t mean you’re going to do it forever. Right. But you never know. You
never say, you know, like try it, try it.
IVY: [00:33:16] You know, like meatless Mondays has become such a big trend, which is so cool cause it’s kind of like helping people get a taste of. What this could be like. And then I love this idea that’s coming forward now of like a plant rich diet or a plant based plant based plant forward, you know, as opposed to like having to be super Orthodox.
But just, I love that idea of shifting, shifting our mindsets to one of curiosity and exploration.
KAITLIN: [00:33:43] I think that that’s the, I mean it just, it, it paves the way for everything else.
IVY: [00:33:47] That’s really powerful. Yeah. What would you say to somebody who. Is of the mindset that it’s like in terms of climate change, it’s the fossil fuel companies. That’s the problem. That’s our only hope is taking them down.
KAITLIN: [00:34:00] It’s just not in your control. Like why? Why suffer through. You know, being angry at things that aren’t in 100% in your control. I kind of feel, I feel like there’s a lot of energy that we should be extending to like, you know, we should be showing up at the climate marches. We should be showing up. And, you know, demanding that our universities divest from fossil fuels, that their endowment funds.
And there’s like little things that we can do definitely to get involved with, you know, trying to wean our way to green energy. But as, as just everyday people, it’s, it’s like that’s a huge knowledge base that maybe I don’t have as an individual. Right? So I feel like the way that I feel most inspired or empowered to continue down this path is by doing things that are, that I have control over.
And by influencing the businesses that I, I’m directly touching. So, you know, we can divest in certain ways with our own individual actions. But it’s going to be really hard. And I was a part of our, like campus green organization and we tried to, we would do all of our, our protests outside of the university offices to try to get our university to divest from fossil fuels. Sometimes you kind of wonder like, what am I doing?
IVY: [00:35:03] My own university won’t listen to me.
KAITLIN: [00:35:06] am I really doing here? I actually, I had a really terrible internship. What wasn’t a terrible internship in general. But like one of my tasks for this internship with a environmental nonprofit that I won’t name the name of, but cause I think they’re doing great work, but she was like, we need you to sit, stand outside on the street corner and hold a sign that says honk if you love solar energy. And then like get people to sign petitions. And I was like, that is the worst. there’s so many better ways that I should be spending my time then holding this honk if you love solar energy sign. And so I don’t know. I mean that’s, that’s what, like that’s maybe a bad example.
But I think it’s just, it’s interesting cause I don’t want people to be like disenchanted by the system when it’s things that we can do in everyday to like influence the businesses around us.
IVY: [00:35:54] Yeah. And then not can ultimately put pressure on the system when we have that collective consciousness, like you’re talking about a shift in consciousness.
KAITLIN: [00:36:02] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I feel like I, I always, I mean, we still have voices that we should be using. So in all the ways that we want to talk about, like divesting from fossil fuels and we want to bring that into the mainstream, like it’s still super important, but I just. I always get, I know that people lose steam.
You know, I have so many friends that were like really passionate about these things, but after they don’t see the results they’re expecting, it’s like all of a sudden they’re kind
IVY: [00:36:24] And they’ve got rent to pay and mouths to feed and yeah.
KAITLIN Honestly more about the mindset and for people to just be aware than it is about the food product itself.
Yeah. I think that the, like the whole concept of turning pulp into added value is it’s a rebellious act because it’s something that. no one’s doing, right. No one was like thinking about it cause it’s, it’s difficult to do. It’s not the easy thing to do. But I think that the mindset of doing things that are a little more.
Difficult or kind of changing the way that our system just works in that linear model and thinking more circular is what the whole brand is about, and that’s really the ethos that I want to instill. With the products and with the packaging. I think packaging is like the biggest tool for my brand because a part of it is that’s what’s sitting on the shelf.
That’s what eyeballs are on when it’s in your pantry and you have friends over, like that’s what people are looking at. They’re looking at the packaging and so I really looked at that as the way that we could, you know, we could package something up that’s a really unique product, but how do we use packaging is actually the messaging in the billboard to talk about larger issues
IVY: [00:37:27] So tell us about the packaging.
KAITLIN: [00:37:29] Yeah, I mean packaging is. The greatest evil of the consumer packaged goods industry because there really are not sustainable options. And even if there are compostable options or biodegradable options, it’s like if it’s getting sent to the landfill, it’s not gonna. It’s not gonna do its best to decompose.So. It’s a love hate relationship, but I think that the packaging for me was all about telling a visual story, like getting people engaged to think about, Oh wow. I never knew like what is the process of actually how juice is manufactured and what are the, what are the actual byproducts? And then even talking about the stats of food waste, like here’s how much food is actually going to waste every year.
IVY: So you’re using your packaging like as an educational billboard.
KAITLIN: [00:38:09] Yeah, definitely. And then trying to find ways that you connect the packaging to activism in a sense. I mean, I would say. We haven’t done, like we’re not doing this in the greatest way, but I have a phone number on there and I have, you know, obviously we have our resources, like, Hey, you want to learn more?
Go to our blog. And we have so many more expanded writings about what we’re, what we’re trying to do and what the ethos is. So I think that it’s, it’s using packaging as a vehicle to say like, people can explore more. And then how does your packaging connect your social media? What is your social media telling people?
How is your social media educating people? And it comes kind of. The billboard is like the tie to all of the other activities you’re doing in the periphery to continue the span, expand awareness and all of that.
IVY: I mean, you’re leading a movement. I love what you said. Wastes less thrive more. Yeah. I mean, who doesn’t want to thrive more?
KAITLIN: [00:39:00] Yeah.
IVY: And that the gateway to doing that, being to waste less is just such a concept. You know? Because I think as Americans, we’ve almost been taught. Consume more, thrive more. Yes. Yeah. That’s what’s really killing us.
KAITLIN: you know, I’m, I’m, I’m sick so I need to go buy like all these pills and it’s, it’s always additive kind of. Oh, we’re never subtracting to be, to get better. We’re adding to get to, like, for this concept of just getting better.
Oh my gosh. Like, I want to have better skin, so I’m going to buy all these products and lathered on versus like thinking, wait, how does. What is, what is it that I’m like actually intaking? That might be a fun, you know, there’s just so many ways that, but I think the thrive more for me really comes in with just saying, I mean, actually when we waste less, we do thrive more in general.
I think it’s, there’s a, there’s another stat that’s for every dollar of food produced, we actually have $2 in the damage, societal and environmental and economic.
So I think if we. If we’re wasting less food, for example, then we’re doing less harm to the environment. And as a benefit, we all will thrive more so I mean waste is something that even though we might not see it, and we think it goes away, it’s. It’s always affecting the world around us, and it really does lead to just worse health for our communities and for us as individuals too.
it’s kind of like that. It’s like there’s a, there’s a connection, there’s a tie there that I think people don’t immediately think of. But of course, like when we sit down and we look at, Oh, food waste is an issue and it’s leading to climate change, then we can kind of start to understand, obviously climate change is affecting my health and it’s affecting my. You know, economic security for generations to come.
IVY: [00:40:43] Yeah. Yeah. So in some ways, like. Even though your product is such a healthy thing to eat and you are saving all this pulp from going to waste, it’s also like a symbol of a whole of a value system. Like a shift in a value system.
KAITLIN: [00:40:55] Exactly.
IVY: [00:40:56] It’s really powerful.
KAITLIN: [00:40:57] Yeah. Do you want to hear some crazy stats
IVY: [00:40:59] Let’s hear it. Yeah,
KAITLIN: [00:41:02] The things that sometimes I nerd out on and I go, wow,
IVY: [00:41:06] is it going to depress me? Am I going to get eco depression
KAITLIN: [00:41:09] It might depress you
IVY: [00:41:10] more, more than I already
KAITLIN: [00:41:13] I can tell you’ve got a joyful spirit. So work we’re going to be, we’re going to be okay. I mean, honestly, that’s why we gotta talk about the solutions that you got to talk about the solutions after you go through the depressing stats, right?
But this, this is all basically from the FAO. so the food agriculture organization and basically says that overall industrialized farming practices, cost environment, some $3 trillion per year. And I think if you know anything about, you. Obviously I’ve studied this, but like extra, and we talk about externalities and those are kind of the economic costs that come from doing things that maybe are not even calculated into the actual price of our food.
So like, imagine if our food was priced to think about the environmental cost as well. And it’s just not today. Like we’re not, you know, we don’t have any responsibility to that, but for us to have like $3 trillion. A year of environmental costs from industrial farming practices is something that I would love to see in the true cost of food.
IVY: [00:42:07] in terms of the damage it’s doing to the environment. And I wonder if we compounded that by looking at what’s the actual cost to our health of eating this GMO corn or GMO fed beef.
KAITLIN: [00:42:21] Honestly, I
IVY: [00:42:22] We connect that with cancer rates.
KAITLIN: [00:42:24] The stat that was a dollar for every, every dollar of like food produced. produces $2 in externalities — like other costs, a dollar. So let’s say we broke that $2 into its parts. One full dollar goes to the. the societal costs. So the health costs, like you said, of just the fact that we’re producing unhealthy processed foods.
KAITLIN: things like that just put it in perspective in a way that’s kind of a little alarming and scary
IVY: [and why, why it’s so exciting to sit down and talk to someone like you is because with all of this heavy duty, freaking depressing awareness. You’re out there rocking it and, and really like being the voice for change.
KAITLIN: I think it is all about like, cause I’ve, I’ve definitely had those dark moments where like, what am I, what should I be really spending my time on? Cause I think about it, I’m like, I want to use my time for this overall purpose, but is what I’m doing with pulp pantry as a company, the highest and best use of my time. Obviously this is not the last thing I’m going to do, you know, before my life is over. But I think I realized, I’m like, this is a stepping stone and it’s a step in the right direction to have these conversations in the small way that I can and given like my resources and what I know and you know, so it’s, it’s hard because I think each of us has that.
Like there’s of course a million things that we could be doing to fight all of these issues, but. We have to think about like us as individuals, what’s our individual unique contribution to the world. And I think that that’s where pull pantry kind of sits with me. And that’s, that’s why I’m able to, that was able to do all the dehydration in the kitchen, you know, like things that seem really futile,
IVY: [00:46:59] Spend your weekends. With the dehydrator.
KAITLIN: [00:47:02] so I think each of us has that in us. Like we start small in ways and it grows and expands. And I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to do this for as long as I have because it has not been successful from day one. Right? Like there’s been so many failures, but. I feel so attached to the idea or this, this company, because I’m also like, I see where it’s going longterm.
IVY: And what is your vision long term?
KAITLIN: [00:47:23] I mean with pulp pantry specifically, like I would just love to basically take over every pantry staple that we have. I think about the grocery store. I’m like, every aisle should have the sustainable, more nutritious option. And
IVY: [00:47:34] Yes to that.
KAITLIN: Yeah. So I’m like, I look at product development, I’m like, why can’t we do. A frozen pizza crust. Why can’t we do dips and sauces? Like why? Why can’t we do a cereal? You know, that’s made from upcycled ingredients that’s more sustainable, that that brings more biodiversity that, you know, is helping people to eat more, plant based, eat less sugar, all those things. Like I think that there’s so many ways that we can get really creative with how we manufacture.
Cause staples like pantry staples are not going away. We talk about eating less processed food, but it’s like. People are still, people are shopping more in the perimeters of the store, but there are still moments of convenience where if you’re a mom, a single mom, and you have two kids, it’s like it’s really hard to cook for a family.
You know? There’s a lot of occasions where I think having packaged funeral life is still going to be a thing, so let’s not, let’s just make better, more nutritious options for people. That’s where I see pulp pantry going. I think it’s just like tackling all those aisles of the grocery store and still telling the same story, the same ethos, the same message.
And really like delivering value to the end consumer in terms of better nutrition. But I think in general, I mean, I look at like the next steps of what I want to do as a person. I’m like, I, you know, it’s not just, it’s not just this company. I definitely see so many other places just through this experience that it’s opened my eyes to just all of the, all of the ways that I think building a brands can evolve into.
Hopefully having a much greater impact across many different industries and in spaces as well.