The Future of Food
The phrase “cow farts contribute to producing greenhouse gasses that are generating the cause of climate change” is no myth. Relating to one Danish study, an average cow would produce enough methane annually to do the same amounts of greenhouse damage of four tons of carbon dioxide. Comparing it to gassed cars, the average is 2.7 tons per year. Specifically, one cow produces 70–120 kg of methane per year and worldwide there are approximately 1.5 billion cattle.
On a whole when looking at animal production alone; global livestock is responsible for burping the methane equivalent of 3.1 gigatonnes (a unit of explosive force equal to one billion tons of trinitrotoluene) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.
Ok yeah, there are animals in the world that are producing these gasses we can’t go around and slaughter them to stop right?
Well no, but it’s exactly what is happening —
Animal production or the production of animal “goods” such as meat, dairy, wool, leather, is a multi-billion dollar per year industry within the U.S. However, it is contributing to the major dilemmas affecting the whole world.
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Here are just a few eye-opening facts:
- Currently, livestock takes place in 45% of the global surface on Earth.
- Rates of deforestation are increasing because they want to increase land expansion to fill it up with animals to then be produced to consumer’s meat
- The rates of animal production are only increasing and are predicted to increase by up to 73% between 2010 and 2050
- The world produces 5 x’s the amount of meat than it did 50 years ago (in 2014–317 million tons)
- For every one human, there are three farm animals alive today
- There are 22.5 billion more cows, chickens, goats, and pigs living on farms rather than having natural selection locate them
- Animal production is the biggest polluter of the globe’s freshwater
“Basically seeing smoke from the amazon is just like seeing second hand smoke to make a burger.” — Pat Brown
Generally speaking; animal production is the equivalent reason why there is so much livestock to produce certain gasses that tie with global warming. Not only do they harm the planet it takes an effect on us. The enjoyment, as well as satisfaction that we take from eating meat, is taking large amounts of harmful actions to the whole globe not only affecting us but affecting everything living organisms.
A specific company that is looking to reduce this dilemma is Impossible Foods. Where their mission is to restore biodiversity and decline the differentiation happening to the Earth from climate change. They are doing this, by transforming the whole global food system, by creating affordable and sustainable meat, fish, and dairy products from plants.
I had the biggest opportunity to tune into the 2020 Tough Tech Summit where I was able to listen to the founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, Patrick O. Brown himself. I was really able to hear what his insights were on how their company first started and their mission as a whole.
Even though yes, his company provides vegan “meat” products they are not directing it to vegetarians or vegans. Their products are directed towards meat-eaters. Since animal production is made to provide meat to meat consumers.
Before being invited to the summit, I actually had tried the impossible burger from burger king. I got to say, my family and I are a huge fan of it since there was absolutely no difference in how it tasted or the texture as well compared to an average whopper burger. Quoting from my brother,
“If I were to eat a normal burger this size, made from red meat I would feel really tired and a little sleepy, but eating this I feel completely fine.”
So hearing that the one and only Pat Brown was talking at the summit, you could probably get a feel of how ecstatic I was.
How did Impossible Foods get so popular?
Going public in 2011, Impossible Foods recreates the experiences of meats and dairy products. However, in 2016 they started gaining popularity as the Impossible Burger debuted in grocery stores in September 2019 where their products were skyrocketed to the number one item sold on the East and West coasts.
They were outselling the ground beef made from cows in American grocery stores. Their impossible meats were in high demand because of how tasty and similar tasting they were to actual meat. Like, if you were to cut a rare beef burger of some sort, there would most likely some sort of red liquid oozing.
Impossible was also able to make this happen with their burgers. Since they were able to ooze red with the heme they’ve added. The heme also provides the savory beefy taste as well as the red color.
How is the Impossible Meat made?
A specific question that Impossible Foods kept in mind was; what makes food so delicious? Understanding that they were only targeting their audience to be meat-eaters they must be sure that the impossible meat to be:
- tasty and still taste like generic meat
- be able to provide the consumer with the same nutrient values that meat would provide
- forms the right texture when chewed
- cookable and usable for all types of foods
- scented to be similar to what is provided by meat
Usually, it depends on what type of impossible meat we are looking at, but in general, these are the theses are top ingredients. (specifically looking at Impossible Pork)
- Soy protein
- Coconut oil
- Sunflower oil
Out of all the ingredients above; you may be wondering; what is heme?
Heme is an iron-containing molecule that is located in every living organism. Both from plants as well and animals. As scientists and researchers from impossible foods try to figure out what makes meat taste like metal they have found that heme was the answer.
In Impossible Foods products; heme is taken from the protein soy leghemoglobin which is naturally found in soy roots. Impossible Foods produces soy leghemoglobin through genetic engineering and fermentation. Heme is the main reason why Impossible Foods have a savory, rich, meaty flavor that satisfies meat-eaters even with no meat.
Well, what’s next for Impossible?
Impossible Food’s goal has always been the same from the start. To make affordable and sustainable meat, fish, and dairy to prevent the negative causes of animal production has on the world. In fact, their main goal is to end animal production by the year 2035.
In order to grow, they must scale their company exponentially. However, the food market is very un-innovative. Quoting on what Brown said in the summit, “The most innovative thing of the year could be a new flavor of a Cheeto…” So in order to reach their goal they want to double the change of notion every year instead of every few years like what other food companies are doing.
They want to evolve, by continuing to grow their variety of products and continue to produce them for meat-based restaurants since again, their targeted people are meat consumers since they do fuel the production of animal meat.
When discovering the idea of if this is really possible since the idea of meat being all plant-based and be made in a “lab” seems unsettling for some. The complete figurings of the future of food are simply Impossible to know now.
Key Takeaways —
- Animal production is causing a massive negative effect on our world and is a major cause in Climate Change
- Impossible Foods is a plant-based meat company that creates impossible meat that mimics the looks, taste, texture, smell, and overall every single thing about meat.
- Impossible Foods goal is to get rid of all animal production by 2035
This article was inspired by the opportunity that I was given. I was able to attend this year’s 2020 MIT Tough Tech Summit where I was able to tune into the CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods Pat Brown talk. Where he talked about food and tech companies and how they are able to build a more sustainable and accessible food supply chain
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