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REWIRE: Turning Trash Grains to Treasure

Trash Grains to Treasure: Student Entrepreneurs Innovate for Change

Working as a server at a restaurant in San Diego, Rey Mustafa watched kitchen staff throw away huge, nearly untouched pots of rice and quinoa at the end of every day.

A vegan and Earth-lover, it pained her to watch so much food waste happen right in front of her.

One day, the chef was about to toss a 50-pound batch of rice that “didn’t even have even one serving taken out of it,” she said.

She stopped him and told him she was going to take it with her. He said, “‘Rey, what the hell are you gonna do with 50 pounds of rice?'” she remembered.

That night, she packaged it up and handed it out to homeless people downtown. She was happy she had saved that pot of rice from the landfill, but she realized what she did with it wasn’t “the most efficient solution.”

She decided to find another way to rescue grains from commercial kitchens — and that’s how SOULMUCH was born.

At SOULMUCH, Mustafa and co-founder Kristian Krugman, who was a server at the same restaurant, collect waste grains from restaurants, dehydrate them, grind them into flour and bake the flour into vegan, gluten-free protein cookies.

Americans throw away an estimated $162 billion in food every year. So far, SOULMUCH has saved 10,000 pounds of food from ending up in landfills.

“We were not a cookie company seeking upcycled ingredients,” Mustafa said. “We were working in the restaurant industry seeking a solution to restaurant food waste.”

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