Wildbrine is a company based in Sonoma County, California that specializes in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, sriracha, and plant based dairy products. This review focuses on their Dill and Garlic Organic Sauerkraut. Wildbrine has maintained its formidable efforts towards sustainability, even though the company has grown considerably in size over the past decade. Although they could be more transparent about their emissions, where they source all their ingredients from (including non produce ingredients), and the extent of their philanthropic contributions, Wildbrine still demonstrates a commendable dedication to the environmental well being of their local community, as well as the physical health of its members and their customers. This is evidenced by their commitment to sustainable farming, low waste operations, healthy products, and local philanthropy.
This product contains only four ingredients: cabbage, garlic, salt, and dill. Fermented foods also have many excellent health benefits. As they are broken down by microbes, the nutrients become more available to the body, and the probiotics themselves enhance gut bacteria. Eating fermented foods can improve your digestion and immune system. Although their products are packaged in plastic containers, Wildbrine offers an explanation for this on their website. Glass jars would not allow for the release of carbon dioxide, and the nature of the products requires carbon dioxide to be expelled without oxygen entering. They argue that the lower weight allows for less emissions in travel, and that this less expensive packaging allows their products to be more affordable. They also make their jars from PET 1 plastic, which has higher recycling rates. According to the EPA, the recycling rate for PET bottles and jars was 29.1% in 2018, compared to 8.7% for all plastics. No other emissions data or commitments were available.
Wildbrine’s Dill and Garlic Sauerkraut is organic, made with produce fertilized by compost rather than factory chemicals. They also commit to sourcing their ingredients from “local West coast farmers.” Although they don’t include a comprehensive list of partners, I was able to find several examples of Sonoma farms that supply them on their website, including New Family Farm and Lakeside Organic Gardens. They also donate their outer cabbage leaves and other vegetable scraps to three local Sonoma farms so that they can feed their livestock. Additional scraps and leftover brine are used in the production of their srirachas. Overall, their operations are designed in order to limit food waste as much as possible. Regarding the fermentation process itself, Wildbrine employs a wild fermentation technique that utilizes the diverse natural microbes on their vegetables rather than supplementing a specific type of microbe or just pickling the product without them.
Co-founder Rick Goldberg began mentoring teens with the Ceres Community Project, where he made sauerkraut to deliver to residents in Sonoma and Marin counties suffering from various illnesses, primarily cancer. The foundation uses volunteer power to provide whole, nutritious meals to those in need at discounted prices or no cost. Wildbrine still supports the project “financially and through product donations” and is listed as a local supplier on the Ceres Community Project website, though they do not specify how much they give.