Monday, November 10, 2014

What is food? (Just Mayo, GMOs, Soylent, the Impossible Cheeseburger, and good bugs)

Back in March 2009, right about when this particular blog was starting up, I wrote a post that referenced another post in a blog called Small Business Labs. I haven't looked at Small Business Labs in years, but I peeked at it recently, and saw a post entitled The Future of Food.

I've previously discussed Beyond Eggs in a post in my tymshft blog. The product, provided (or should I say manufactured?) by Hampton Creek Foods, has subsequently taken a back seat to two other products, Just Mayo and Just Cookies. The common theme of the new products? Both are considered "sustainable," inasmuch as there aren't any of those chickens laying those messy eggs. Just Mayo, for example, includes the following ingredients:

Non-GMO Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Filtered Water, Lemon Juice, White Vinegar, 2% or less of the following: Organic Sugar, Salt, Pea Protein, Spices, Modified Food Starch, Beta-Carotene.*

Note that Hampton Creek Foods makes a big deal out of the non-GMO nature of its ingredients. There are those who believe that it is important to avoid genetically modified organisms. There are those (such as I do) who would like to be informed whether my food in GMO or non-GMO. And there are those who believe that it doesn't make a hill of beans ("natural" or otherwise) whether a food is a GMO food or not; in fact, Tad Donaghe characterizes anti-GMO people as 21st century Luddites. Donaghe's view is based upon the scientific evidence:

Every major scientific body and regulatory agency in the world has reviewed the research about GMOs and openly declared crop biotechnology and the foods currently available for sale to be safe. GM crops are as safe–and in the case of nutrtionally enhanced varieties, such as Golden Rice, healthier–than conventional and organic crops. The consensus over the health and safety is as strong as the consensus that we are undergoing human induced climate change, vaccines are beneficial and not harmful and evolution is a fact.

Of course, there are other studies....

And I haven't even brought up the food (or "food") that was intentionally given the unfortunate name of Soylent.

Put simply, Soylent 1.0 is healthy, easy, affordable food.

Soylent 1.0 is a simple, efficient and affordable drink that possesses what a body needs to be healthy.

Soylent 1.0 is a new option for maintaining a balanced state of ideal nutrition, just like traditional food.

OK, so what is it?

Soylent is a convenient powder that is mixed with water.

Some tout Soylent as the future of food, but David Tao (who experienced bloating and who aggravated his throat in an admittedly short three-day test) is less enthusiastic.

Soylent may revolutionize nutrition for some, but as my experiences indicate, it’s definitely not for everyone. Yes, there are numerous examples of people who switched to an all-Soylent diet and felt great doing it — including its inventor. But while my three-day trial wasn’t enough to draw conclusions about consuming Soylent long-term, the early side effects have scared me off for now.

I seem to have strayed from my original purpose, which was to discuss the recent Small Business Labs article. It starts off by talking about Impossible Foods, a company that is creating meat (or "meat") out of biomass. As Small Business Labs' Steve summarized it:

We've traditionally used cows as our technology for converting plants into meat. Impossible Foods is replicating this process in a lab, eliminating the need for cows.

Not only is this potentially cheaper, but much better for the environment. Raising cows requires a lot of energy and water. Lab made meat would greatly reduce the use of both of these as well as eliminating the need for land for grazing.

Here's how Impossible Foods describes the process.

We looked at animal products at the molecular level, then selected specific proteins and nutrients from greens, seeds, and grains to recreate the wonderfully complex experience of meats and dairy products. For thousands of years we've relied on animals as our technology to transform plants into meat, milk, and eggs. Impossible Foods has found a better way.

The result?

Well, at least it looks better than Soylent. But how does it taste? According to, a Wall Street Journal taste test (behind a paywall) characterized the taste of the Impossible Cheeseburger as "something like a cross between a turkey burger and regular beef burger."

Small Business Labs also talked about food made from bugs, but hey - I'm about to eat.
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