Back in November 2017, I attended an event, Food Loves Tech, in Industrial City, Brooklyn. It was an amazing event and I learned a lot about how technology is changing the way we eat and how the food industry is constantly evolving. (Check out my post to read more about it!) Anyway, I spoke with organic wine companies, vegan brownie companies, an oyster company that delivered fresh oysters to one’s doorsteps, and A.I. machines that could draw faces on coffees and put decorative icing on cookies. There was one company that really stood out to me though, and that was Impossible Foods with their Impossible burger. One bite of this plant based, vegan ‘burger’ and I was HOOKED! I was so obsessed that I dragged a good friend of mine, on a frigid cold, slightly snowy, December evening, into the one place in NYC I know that had this burger, Saxton and Parole, and made him try it so he could further understand my infatuation (and hopefully get on board my bandwagon). Low and beyond, he absolutely hated it. …Just kidding! It was total love at first bite and for me, love at second bite. I knew I needed to find out more.
As luck would have it, Fortune magazine debuted an extremely informative article entitled “Where’s the Beef” in their December issue and many of my questions were answered. Check out the video explaining the Impossible Foods background on the Fortune page here. The Impossible burger is made entirely from plants and includes ingredients such as: wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, heme protein, and amino acids and vitamins. Impossible’s breakthrough was in discovering that the essence of meat comes from heme, which is an iron-rich molecule in blood that gives the burger the bloodiness and meat like cravability, as well as its deep red color. The company has grown exponentially and demand has quickly surpassed supply.
The company states that its goal is to end the use of animals in food production by 2033. Why, should you care? Aside from finding new ways to feed a growing, protein-heavy global population, livestock emissions are responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gases. In fact, cows require a shocking 26 pounds of feed for every one pound of edible meat produced. In addition to that, 51% of global greenhouse emissions are driven by livestock rearing and processing; 45% of global surface area is used for livestock systems; 29% of animal production share of agricultural water use and 66 billion land animals are slaughtered every year for food (Beyondmeat.com). After watching the movie Babe, I promised I would never eat a pig ever again in my life, so I’m on board with saving livestock!
Beyond meat lists retailers across the USA that sell their products right on their website. I recommend giving them a go at a restaurant near you, such as Bare Burger (locations in Southern California, Chicago, Toronto, Washington D.C, Philadelphia, New York City and New Jersey), and Umami Burger (locations in California, Chicago, New York and Las Vegas).
Other startup plant based meat companies including Memphis Meats and Beyond Meat are sharing the same vision, to create the post-animal economy. Beyond Meat is taking the proteins from plant matter and resetting their bonds using heating, cooling, and pressure, so they mimic animal muscle. Its burger is made from pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut oil. In December 2017, they introduced their newest product, beyond sausage. According to the website, it has more protein that pork sausage, 43% less fat, 27$ less calories, 26% less sodium and best of all, no GMOS, gluten or soy. I was shocked at its list of ingredients too: a blend of pea, fava bean and rice protein provide the protein. Very small amounts of beet lend the meat color and coconut oil ensures it juiciness. The case is 100% plant based and derived from algae. Apparently, the product is sold exclusively for at the Whole Foods Market Pearl Street in Boulder, CO. You can however, find some of their other products in the meat cases of Kroger, Albertsons, Shaw’s Wegmans, Safeway, and Ahold (Food Trends That Will Shape 2018).
Memphis Meats is well known for its first label grown meatball, at a whopping cost of just $1,000. (That’s almost as expensive as the ‘world’s most expensive ‘burger’ with wagyu beef, gold coated buns, lobster and black truffle brie! Link.) Luckily, they claim to have more affordable ‘cultured-meat’ products on the market in three to four years. They make their products using isolated cow cells that have the ability to regenerate. Then they feed these cells with oxygen, sugar and minerals. In nine to 21 days, the developed cells grow into skeletal muscle and are harvested (Vice.com link). It’s certainly an interesting concept that has techies in Silicon Valley going wild, as well as billionaires such as Bill Gates and Richard Brandon. Cargill, Inc,. one of the largest global agricultural companies has also gotten on board and invested an undisclosed sum of money to help the company grow (Bloomberg.com link), and Leonardo DiCaprio has also gotten on board investing tons of money to help the company grow.
Other companies to note include Mosameat (the Dutchmakers that made the world’s first cultured burger nearly five years ago), Finless Foods (focused on making vegan bluefish tuna), Supermeat (Israeli company working on vegan chicken as it’s the most eaten animal in the world), Notco (startup developing an algorithm that identifies the molecular components of plants so that they came be used to replicate animal based products), New Wave Foods (company making algae based shrimp alternatives), Ocean Hugger (using tomatoes as a plant-based alternative to create the raw tuna used in Sushi. The company launched in Whole Foods this past November. It’s delicious, give it a try next time you’re in Whole Foods).
I had a ton of fun researching this article and want to continue to learn more as the food tech industry is on fire right now! If you’re in New York City/Brooklyn, you should check out the Food + Tech Meetup group. They do events about once a month and they’re very interesting. Contact me with any questions!
With that I ask, has anyone ever tried these products? What are your thoughts? Where did you buy/have them?