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Currently showing: Food security > Diet/alternatives

14 Sep 13 07:25

Every year, more than a trillion eggs are laid globally by hens kept in horrific conditions in battery farms. Josh Tetrick, the amazing 33-year old CEO of Hampton Creek Foods, thinks that his company can change that using plants that can act as emulsifiers in food products or even replicate the flavor and consistency of eggs.

So far, so ordinary. We've had egg replacement powders for decades, but Hampton Creek is in the process of signing deals with global food companies that produce egg-based products like cookies, mayonnaise and similar. As the article below explains the rewards for big business are huge. Not only are plant based replacements less environmentally damaging and ethically compromising, they are also radically cheaper.;_medium=RSS%2Bfeed&utm;_campaign=RSS%2BText%2BNews

Tetrick's vision, however, is far bigger. As he explains in his Ted Talk, he wants to see a future where we massively re-imagine our entire food supply to take animals out of the equation and make food production more sustainable, more environmentally friendly and more humane. He talks of aligning our food with our values.;=c4-overview&list;=UU4DUZAtqyn1XnGacB8vERpA

It's an inspiring vision of the future and one which is gaining real support. Hampton Creek is one of three companies in the sector to be seeded by Bill Gates. Of the others, Beyond Meat makes plant-based foods that look, taste and feel like meat, while Nu-Tek Food Sciences has developed a product that tastes like salt but has half the sodium. Gates talks about his vision for a sustainable food future here:

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about using insects as food but that doesn't sound like something the general public would buy into. In fact, it sounds like a piece of marketing, a proposal designed to raise awareness of an issue by stimulating disgust, something intended for tabloid journalism rather than a serious proposal for fixing a global problem. But, as these companies are showing, there are real solutions out there and, with the benefit of hindsight, they seem shockingly obvious. When you think that a $500,000 grant to explore the possibilities of plant-based egg replacements has delivered a solution that will save huge global food companies billions of dollars while allowing them to take serious kudos for their corporate responsibility and potentially label their cheaper-to-produce products as higher margin ethical brands, you have to wonder why those companies were not exploring those possibilities themselves and why it has taken so long to arrive at this solution.

Hopefully, this is the start of a revolution in the way that we look at food and the way that companies think about food production. It seems like a win for the entire planet.

Category: Food security: Diet/alternatives, Farming, Food industry, Livestock, Climate/natural disasters: Climate change

Location: San Francisco, CA


Tanya Hogan - 18 Sep 2013, 6:32 a.m.

I must admit I was sceptical about using egg replacements at first but chia seeds soaked in coconut milk work perfectly as an egg replacement for baking. I made these muffins and they turned out yummy and didn't fall apart! And chia seeds are very nutritious and are packed with calcium.

Gardenia Willoughby - 18 Sep 2013, 5:10 p.m.

I make chia seed/coconut milk pudding as a snack, but I have never tried using the mixture to bake. Will definitely give it a try!

Rashunda Tramble - 19 Sep 2013, 3:29 p.m.

Never heard of the chia seed / coconut milk mixture. I'll have to try it out. I guess my main concern about all of these replacements is cost: is Tetrick's company geared towards the hipster Whole Foods crowd?

Gavin Montgomery - 20 Sep 2013, 9:54 a.m.

Tetrick is aimed squarely at the food production industry. He's looking for big corporate customers and he claims that at scale his product will cost about one sixth of what eggs cost today. But this is part of a broader discussion on how we use animals in the food chain. Andras Forgacs, the CEO of Modern Meadows that creates bio-engineered alternative to meat and leather, claims that by 2050 it will take 100 billion land animals to keep us all fed and clothed. Check out his TED talk on the issues here:

Basically, our current use of livestock appears to be unsustainable and needs to change. These people are looking for a game changer that will allow us to maintain our standard of living without using animals.

Ralph Kurzman - 22 Sep 2013, 5:27 p.m.

So many people think that they are much smarter than people who were semi-successful many years ago. Tofu is an ancient high protein plant food. About half a century ago, soy protein was made into meat-like material by using non-woven fabric technology with what was basically flavored, firm tofu. General Mills sold it a bacon bits to add to salad, etc. However, the cost of production and the limited market have made those products almost extinct. The only trick to imitating eggs is to get the desired physical properties, However, the biggest trick is to make something with those properties for less than a chicken can do it. So, when you see mass marketing of vegetable "eggs" that can be cooked to look and taste like a soft-boiled chicken's egg, we can all be amazed! Even less amazing would be a vegetable meringue. On the other hand, if you look at labels on some packaged baked good, you will find that soy protein is already there in place of the eggs that are called for in home cookbooks.

While unrelated to food, Nissan advertisements imply that electric (COAL BURNING) automobiles are a new idea and that burning coal to make electricity is clean power. While there have been many improvements in batteries and electronics, electric automobiles were on the streets 100 years ago. They did not even have steering wheels, they had tillers. However, during most of the years between electric horseless carriages and modern luxury cars, there were always industrial and other utility electric vehicles - fork lifts, tugs, etc. for indoor use. Hybrid automobiles are treated as something new, out of the blue, but the railroads have been using diesel-electric engines for about 3/4 of a century.

Alicia Montoya - 22 Sep 2013, 7:48 p.m.

Very good point, Ralph. However, as Gavin points out, most industrial food giants still use eggs. So while some do use replacements, we're still somehow consuming more than a trillion eggs!

I totally agree with you, we've known many of these things for centuries. And yet, industrialization seems to have drawn us away from much of this millennial knowledge. So hey, the way I see it, good think we're "rediscovering" these things, and using technology to make them go further.

I also really love that many farmers markets are bringing back species of apples, potatoes, tomatoes... that had virtually disappeared from stores. Being a complete tomato freak, I can't imagine why we'd only settle for cherry, peretti and beef tomatoes when we could have dozens of species to choose from. If Monsanto doesn't buy the seeds, patent them and then discontinue their production (and sue anybody who does), that is!

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