Impossible Foods: Saving the World?

Achieving the Impossible with Impossible Foods

We in hospitality talk a lot about sustainability; how we can make the most of resources, and make sure we protect the environment. We wrote a couple of weeks ago about how so many regularly-consumed food items are becoming ‘endangered’, how much water it takes it grow an avocado or an almond, how meat is unsustainable and what we could do instead to help use resources more effectively (you can read it here if you missed it).

In what is possibly the most innovative example yet of a sustainable alternative to meat, Patrick Brown has founded Impossible Foods, the US company that creates meat products from plants. The idea for Impossible Foods came while he was on sabbatical and reflecting on what he could do, given his training and experience, to make the largest and most positive impact on the world.

Patrick realised there was a better way to make meat – directly from plants – that would taste better and be better for the environment, and the first product, a plant-based burger, is to launch later this year.

The company says: ‘We are doing something that has never been done before. We are the first company to extract specific proteins from plants and then combine them with simple ingredients like amino acids, vitamins and fats to create raw meat from plants that tastes, smells and cooks like conventional meat.’

Will it help the environment?

Producing Impossible Foods’ meat will require a small fraction of the land and water required to make an equivalent amount of conventional beef from cattle, with far lower net greenhouse gas emissions.  A lifecycle analysis the company conducted in 2015 indicated that producing Impossible burgers uses 99% less land, 85% less water, and emits 89% less greenhouse-gas emissions than conventional animal-derived beef. Quite an impressive set of statistics by anyone’s standards.

But how does it taste? You can see in the photo above that it certainly looks like the real thing, it’s fatty and ‘bleeds’ like a beef burger. Impossible Foods have been taste testing, and are finding that the feedback is positive across the board, and they’re confident even the most hardened meat eaters will become converts.

In terms of cost to the consumer, the burger will initially be priced about as much as a higher end burger on the current high street, but as production is scaled up over the course of a couple of years, the burger will cost less than the least expensive animal-derived burgers – another incentive for the meat brigade perhaps.

The burger will launch in selected California restaurants towards the end of this year, and be rolled out across the US, Europe and Asia thereafter.

What do you think, is it an interesting concept? Would you try it? Hopefully it will appear on an EP food tour in the near future.

EP Taste is the food and restaurant side of EP, and membership gives access to exclusive events, and regular opportunities to stay on top of new developments. For more information or to join, just contact Amy Lainchbury

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