Renewal Mills snickerdoodle mix is kosher and vegan.
Renewal Mills snickerdoodle mix is kosher and vegan.

Renewal Mill’s kosher vegan treats come to Afikomen Judaica shop

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

If Nell Mahgel-Friedman could have her way, she’d give the following tagline to the new local food company Renewal Mill: “Tikkun olam that tastes great.” (Tikkun olam means fixing the world.)

That’s why Mahgel-Friedman, who with husband Chaim owns the Berkeley Judaica shop Afikomen, has invited the owners of the Oakland-based business to do a demo at their store later this month.

Renewal Mill is carving out a niche in the world of upcycling, which means using products that would otherwise end up in the waste stream, for food. Its flours and baked goods mixes are made from okara, the soybean byproduct that is left over after making tofu and oat milk flour.

Mahgel-Friedman first noticed the products — she’s especially a fan of the brownie and snickerdoodle mixes — on her local grocery store shelves; she was immediately interested from the upcycling perspective and the fact that they were gluten-free, a must for her household, and that they were vegan, to boot. But when she saw the hescher (kosher seal of approval) she got even more excited, since many products that appeal to her are off-limits because they aren’t kosher.

While Renewal Mill is not a Jewish business, the fact that the owners chose to go through the process to make their business kosher means “they value being inclusive, and want to get their products in as many homes as they can,” said Mahgel-Friedman. “That says a lot for a newer company that they’re doing that from the beginning, as sometimes it takes years.”

Their mixes not only taste great, she said, but are very easy to make, which means they can be tackled by the youngest of bakers.

“This is a really great way to introduce kids to baking and especially, baking for Shabbos and Yom Tov [holidays],” Mahgel-Friedman said. Using her own daughter as an example, she said that Raizel started baking with mixes like these and then graduated to baking from scratch.

“Baking is a great activity for kids. Having your kids make a delicious Renewal Mill batch of brownies is a great way to help kids connect to the holidays and feel part of it.”

The Renewal Mill demo will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on Aug. 29.

“Our vision for Afikomen is to connect people to Jewish life through culture, ritual, schmoozing and through food, of course,” Mahgel-Friedman said.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."