A Conversation with Moonshot
Makers, Mongers, & ExpertsMAY 05, 2023
We sat down with Julia Collins, founder of Moonshot Snacks, to chat about the incredible work they do that goes way beyond producing some of the most delicious crackers around. Among their line of craveworthy snacks are two of our favorites: the Rosemary & Garlic Crackers and the Tomato & Basil variety. At Moonshot, it’s their top priority to develop delicious, carbon neutral products that are good for both the planet and the people in it. Read on to learn more about this incredible company!
How did the idea for the business come about?
I truly believe that every single person has the right to be a part of the solution to climate change. When I learned that more than a third of human-made greenhouse gas emissions come from land use and food systems, I realized that there was an opportunity to take action. With Moonshot, I wanted to do more than just create one carbon neutral snack brand. I wanted to build a climate-friendly food movement, inviting all people to take part in one of the best solutions to climate change. Because I believe that if you want to change the world, change food.
Before creating Moonshot, I did a lot of research about sustainable food systems and regenerative agriculture and realized that regenerative agriculture needed to be the foundation of our snack. As I began looking for the right ingredients, I realized that it would be possible to not only source from great farmers but also promote the kind of agriculture that helps to improve biodiversity, protect ecosystems, and protect our planet by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil.
Fighting climate change is the core tenet of the brand, can you speak a little more on your mission and how it’s evolved throughout the business’s growth?
At Moonshot, our ultimate goal is to build a climate-friendly food movement that unites all people in a delicious community of climate action! While there is no silver bullet solution to the climate crisis, we do believe that we can all eat our way to a better future. The way that we engage people in this movement is to create truly delicious products that people love.
In dreaming of the best product to create we got really excited about snacks because snacking accounts for 50% of all eating occasions and 94% of people say they snack at least once a day. That’s a lot of snacking and people who snack deserve to eat food that is tasty, good for their bodies and good for the earth.
Our mission has been and always will be to fight climate change while protecting people and the planet. Climate change isn’t just about CO2, it’s about people. That’s why we are so interested in using our voice within the world of snacks to help our customers connect with stories of regenerative agriculture, healthier food systems and net zero products. That’s why we work tirelessly to not only educate our snackers on the impact food has on the earth, but about the intersection of climate justice and social justice.
We also want to recognize and celebrate that the sustainable farming practices we use to grow our wheat – regenerative agriculture – are rooted in indigenous wisdom. Our packaging recognizes that our headquarters sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Yelamu tribe, in what’s also known as San Francisco. We are the first CPG brand to include a land acknowledgment and a definition for regenerative agriculture on our packaging. We believe that educating our consumers is a vital component of the larger work we are doing to recognize and include indigenous communities and ancestral wisdom in our work.
Being a Black women-owned business is something to celebrate–can you share any positive experiences through that lens or any role models or inspiration you’ve had on this journey?
One of the many beautiful things about being a Black woman, building a business is that I feel a deep connection and an ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Because I carry the lived experience of being an “other” I can truly connect and empathize with anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t quite belong. And it turns out that so many people, maybe the majority of people have at one time felt that they were misjudged, or totally left out because of some element of their identity. Being different has made me lean into being inclusive. When you look at the team that we have assembled around Moonshot and Planet FWD, from our core team to all of our partners and investors, you’ll see that we are perhaps the most radically diverse team in our sector. This is something that I feel really proud of.
I’ve had countless role models in my life, particularly as I’ve stepped deeper into the work of working to solve climate change, but the person who has been most influential through every phase of my life has been my mom. She has taught me the power of poise and as I watch her seamlessly navigate the many circles of her life, as a company executive, a wife, a mother and a grandmother, I see that all things are possible.
Obviously, regenerative agriculture and climate-friendly ingredients are a must for your make process, but how do you go about choosing those ingredients as well as the different flavors you produce? How’d you choose your production partners?
When I set out to create Moonshot I hadn’t a clue of what kind of snack I wanted to make. I just knew I wanted it to be the first climate-friendly snack to exist, to pave the way for others behind us. In a way, I feel as though crackers chose me.
When I set out to create a snack, I first connected with an absolutely amazing miller named Kevin Morse at Cairnspring Mills, based in the Skagit Valley of Washington. Next, he introduced me to an incredible family-owned 4th-generation farm, and now 1st-generation regenerative farm just down the road, Hedlin Farms. Hedlin Farms grows the most flavorful wheat using regenerative practices, like cover cropping and crop rotation that build nutrients in the soil while protecting the soil and our planet.
After some initial recipe testing with the flour from their wheat, crackers became a clear choice. We’ve also come to appreciate the simplicity of crackers as a conduit for our message of a climate-friendly future. I know I’m biased, but they quickly became my favorite crackers, due to the intense flavor and quality of the wheat grown at Hedlin Farms and the stone milling done at Cairnspring that creates depths of flavor in the wheat.
From there, we chose flavors that are easy to pair or enjoy solo. Sourdough is a San Francisco tradition and felt like a must-have. Rosemary Garlic is a classic for pairing with great cheeses, one of my first food love affairs developed during my time working at Murray’s in New York. And lastly, given my history with pizza, we really wanted to do our own spin on a pizza flavor – which is where Tomato Basil comes into play.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Moonshot Crackers? Any favorite pairings in particular?
I eat so many Moonshot crackers that I have a favorite for each flavor. I find that Champagne pairs nicely with Sourdough Sea Salt. I really love to pair Tomato Basil with hummus and Sourdough Sea Salt with tomato soup. I love Rosemary Garlic with goat cheese and preserved lemon! They’re also delicious on their own, I tend to keep a bowl next to my laptop throughout the workday.
Can you speak to what’s next for Moonshot or any goals for the future?
We’re currently working on developing new flavors for our cracker, which is very exciting. We can’t wait for you all to enjoy what’s next. In this process, we’re working closely with our farmers to figure out the right ingredients and flavors that are both super tasty and climate-friendly.
We’re also looking to a future beyond crackers, as we expand Moonshot snacks into new varieties and formats. We plan to continue partnering with farmers to make the most flavorful, diversified and sustainable decisions possible. This means looking at other grains, what grows best on a farmers’ land and asking the right questions to figure out how to achieve our climate impact goals through our sustainable sourcing.
And of course, we’re always excited to keep expanding the climate-friendly food movement we’re building and welcoming more people in!
We have a vision for all food brands to reach carbon neutrality by understanding, reducing and neutralizing their carbon footprints. We believe in this vision so much that we actually designed a technology platform that is managed by our sister company, Planet FWD to help brands do just that, because we are so much stronger when we work together.
With a firsthand knowledge of Murray’s, is there anything else you think our customers should know about Moonshot
In many ways, my experience working at Murray’s early in my food career gave me the confidence to build my own brand. I remember watching in awe as all of these amazing producers would launch new products right there at the Bleecker Street store. I have always loved how Murray’s centers producers and gives voice to smaller brands who are making a big difference in the world.
Murray’s is so magical not only for their vast and unique cheese offerings but your incredible accouterment that can really make your charcuterie board shine. So I say pair often and with every combination on your cheeseboard! You’d be surprised how the earthy tones of Rosemary Garlic can be complemented by the sweetness of an apple or pumpkin butter or how the Sourdough cracker crumble can bring together a gourmet mac and cheese.