Fast-Growing Boyle Heights Tortilla Business Started by 2 High School Friends Seeking Return to Tradition

Omar Ahmed, 33, co-owner of Kernel of Truth tortilla company, counts yellow corn tortillas at their facility in Boyle Heights. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Omar Ahmed, 33, co-owner of Kernel of Truth tortilla company, counts yellow corn tortillas at their facility in Boyle Heights. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Chances are you’ve had supermarket corn tortillas, the thick, bland, chalky discs that Rick Ortega calls “hot dog tortillas.”

Ortega, along with business partner Omar Ahmed, runs Kernel of Truth, a Los Angeles company that makes tortillas almost unrecognizable in taste from those mass-retail bulk versions.

The two are pushing back against a tortilla-making process that became industrialized in the 20th century, particularly through the domination of Maseca, a producer of dehydrated tortilla flour.

Chefs and restaurateurs say they have been inspired by corn’s spiritual meaning in Mexican indigenous culture and by the decade-long battle that has been fought in the Mexican courts to keep genetically modified corn out of the country and from contaminating the country’s most valuable agricultural product.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

Rick Ortega, 33, co-owner of Kernel of Truth, making yellow corn tortillas. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Rick Ortega, 33, co-owner of Kernel of Truth, making yellow corn tortillas. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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