Corey Rennell

Quest for Nutrition Leads Corey Rennell Around the Globe

By Krista Lampe | From learning to fish with grenades in Nagaland and hand-grinding corn in northern Mexico to eating cassowary in Papua New Guinea and planting rice in Java, Corey Rennell’s quest can only be attributed to passion … or is it insanity?

The 2003 Coca-Cola Scholar spent 14 months living with 12 tribes around the world, trying to get to the bottom of our species’ 200,000-year relationship with food.

The health epidemic we face now, he says, is nothing new.  As part of his thesis at Harvard, he learned sickness is common as people begin eating denser foods. “It takes 15,000 years for our anatomy to respond to new food sources. We’ve seen this before both when our ancestors started cooking and when they started eating meat.”

“Our stomachs are built for about two-thirds raw unprocessed food and one-third cooked or denser food,” he explains. “Processed foods are incredible innovations in energy storage, but right now they simply fill up our stomachs too slowly for our bodies to know when to stop.”

Corey jokes that he’s fully confident that in another 10,000 years or so we’ll be living off nothing but fortified cookies and will have tiny stomachs, but for now he’s created a food to fill the gap.

Corey constantly relied on nutrition bars during his far-reaching travels, and the more he learned, the more he realized that they were among the worst foods he could choose. He began making his own fresh food packs instead, fully balanced meals made raw from five or six organic ingredients.

As he continued to travel, he became inspired by traditional recipes to craft regional varieties in balance with native flora. By the end of his expedition, he had created what he calls CORE Meals, the first FRESH nutrition bars. They are sold refrigerated and last for no more than a month—in line with his mantra that “real food spoils.”

CORE MealEach CORE Meal has four hundred calories and boasts a complete nutritional profile, so it easily replaces breakfast or lunch. The ingredients aren’t a secret: a fruit, a nut, a seed, a grain, and ground spices. All are organic, whole, and raw ingredients pressed together and soaked. No sweeteners, no flours, no oils, no additives, “no funny business,” as Corey harps. 

“The healthiest food choice is always produce,” Corey says. “But if you don’t have time to make a salad, you shouldn’t have to compromise your health.”

Rennell wanted his company to be about more than selling fresh bars. “Food is like medicine,” he says, “it shouldn’t be mixed up in profit.” Inspired by the traditional values of the people he lived with, Corey’s company focuses on clear, unbiased information and reciprocity and commits all net profits to charity.

Just like in the tribes Corey spent time with, the health and sustainability of the community is paramount—San Francisco-based CORE Foods strives to reduce its footprint and offsets any remaining carbon, pays all employees living wages, caps executive salaries at the industry average, and happily shares its financial information. Corey even puts his phone number on the package: 415.343.5834.

Corey strongly believes in the power of dedicated individuals. He encourages rising leaders to have faith in their ideas and take action. The mission statement of his company reflects this attitude: “By leading with our values, we build the world of our dreams.”

To find CORE Meals near you or to learn more about CORE Foods products and their unique business model, visit