Core Meals

An Out-of-the-Box Way to Eat Oatmeal


Chris Duffey

What was your life mission when you were 20-something? Corey Rennell, 27, wants to revolutionize the way people eat.

A vegetarian since age 7, Rennell is the nutrition-centric guy behind Core Meals, portable raw oatmeal, fruits and nuts compressed into nutrition bar form. But don’t call it a bar—it’s food, more specifically, a meal: a Core Warrior Meal (which contains whey) or a Core Defender Meal (which is vegan). Each type comes in three flavors, raw almond raisin, raw walnut banana and raw cashew cacao; they are $3.99 apiece and are
marketed as a meal replacement option. Rip open the package, chomp up the bar, drink two glasses of water (important) and that’s reportedly equivalent to a stable, energy-supportive 400-calorie bowl of oatmeal with to-go convenience.

“They are very hardy. The deal with whole, real foods is that they are very satisfying,” Rennell says in a recent afternoon interview at his crowded West Oakland office in the American Steel Studios space. Core Meals—to the tune of 30,000 per month—are produced a few blocks away at a West Oakland warehouse. The product debuted on Earth Day 2010, and busy moms, athletes and members of the on-the-go set who understand that plants are good and pay attention to shelf life dates are eating them.

Rennell studied natural history and the relationship of biology and nutrition at Harvard and developed recipes for Core Meals after embarking on a 14-month international quest for nutritional nirvana with the BBC and The Discovery Channel. He lived among 12 tribes of supremely fit indigenous peoples to learn what they ate to remain so healthy and determined—surprise!—they thrived on fresh, real food derived mainly from plants, seeds, herbs and spices with only a little animal protein.

Following that dietary lead, Rennell mushed together a few ingredients, put them in bags and lived on that during those travels. “Those transformed into the food we serve now,” says Rennell. “Each recipe is actually inspired by one of the traditional people that I lived with.”

Core Foods (, maker of Core Meals, is as out of the box as its raw meal replacement product in that it’s a nonprofit business, concerned with the greater good, according to Rennel. As such, Rennell, a big booster of Oakland and the community’s associated business development organizations and programs, makes sure profits go back into the company.

Rennell believes dietary change can happen—it just might take awhile. Regardless, he says, “The revolution is well on its way.”

Buy Core Meals at whole and natural food stores on the West Coast and Rockies or online.

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