How a love of homemade beer led UCLA students Jordan Schwartz and Dan Kurzrock to become leaders in the war against food waste
When I was growing up, two of my Mom’s favorite aphorisms were, “Waste not, want not” and “Eat everything on your plate— there are starving children in Europe.” Perhaps not surprisingly, both of these sayings are excruciatingly applicable in the here and now. “Waste not, want not” has taken on even greater resonance, moving beyond the concerns of a single household and echoing from today into the future for the food needs of succeeding generations. And substitute “sub- Saharan Africa” for Europe, and the starving children in overwhelming numbers are real and desperate.
The Food Waste Crisis
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO), one- third of all food produced for human consumption— 1.3 billion tons— is wasted every year. That figure is even higher in the U. S.— 40 percent of our food, worth $ 680 billion, is wasted each year. This is the food we leave uneaten on our plates, the discarded past- date foodstuff s that are still fine for consumption, and the less than cosmetically perfect fruits and vegetables that never even make it to the supermarket.
It’s such an overwhelming crisis, one hardly knows where to begin to eff ect change. But two beer- loving UCLA undergraduates stumbled upon a notion that led to a small step of reclamation. It has blossomed into a seriously committed company that seeks to lead the way in a crusade against food waste.
Two Beer Lovers; One Great Idea
College students Jordan Schwartz and Dan Kurzrock decided that the best way to enjoy their favorite beverage— beer— was to make it themselves. When they found themselves schlepping buckets of spent grain out to the trash, they discovered that, as Kurzrock says, “It looked like oatmeal, smelled like bread, and felt like we were throwing away food, so we decided to do something about it.” So they decided to turn that “waste” grain into bread, which they sold to fellow students to support their beer habit.
From Beer to Supergrains
“We realized we could build an ingredient platform to close the loop between the brewing industry and the food system globally,” says Schwartz. Specifi cally, he and Kurzrock set out to create a supergrain from beer waste and incorporate it into granola- type bars. Thus was born ReGrained SuperGrain Bars, nutrient- dense, ethically sourced snack bars wrapped in sustainable packaging. There are three flavors to choose from: Honey Cinnamon IPA Immune Supporting SuperGrain Bar, Chocolate Coff ee Stout Energizing SuperGrain Bar, and Blueberry Sunflower Saison Antioxidant SuperGrain Bar.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Once their unique supergrain ( called Supergrain+) is patented, Schwartz and Kurzrock note that its applications and uses will be nearly endless. “Humanity has put itself in the midst of an environmental crisis. We’re motivated to be a part of the solution,” says Kurzrock.
“We believe the market will reward purpose- driven businesses for doing the right thing,” adds Schwartz. “We believe that our values will enable us to create lasting value, and this will never change.”
“I wouldn’t trade the sense of purpose this imbues in us for anything in the world,” says Kurzrock. Hopefully, this is how you save the world— one passionate and innovative step at a time.
“It is absurd that something like 1 in 7 Americans is unsure of where their next meal will come from, while 40 percent of all edible food is wasted,” says Dan Kurzrock, cofounder of ReGrained, shown here ( left) with his business partner Jordan Schwartz.