Known for his genetic research, biochemistry scientist and Stanford University professor Patrick Brown has created a plant-based hamburger that ‘bleeds’ just like a meat patty cooked medium-rare. With it, he aims to not only upend the trillion-dollar animal farming industry, but also create a more sustainable burger experience amid mounting environmental pressures.
His Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods wants to win over meat-lovers by providing plant-based products that taste just as good as the real thing. They do this by recreating – and improving on – the meaty taste from a molecular level. ‘Plant blood’ is created through the inclusion of heme, a molecule found in high concentration in animal blood, which has a distinct iron flavour. However, rather than sourcing this from animals, Impossible Foods extracts it from the roots of legume plants.
The rise of Impossible Foods and its potentially game-changing product correlates with the growing sales of cruelty-free faux meat market options. Its rejection of Google’s $300 million buyout offer – which was reportedly too low – is an indicator of the rising interest in investment in new sources of protein. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Google Ventures and other notable investors have already backed the company with $75 million in funding.
Could we see the cow downgraded in our food chain? “Livestock is an antiquated technology. There are limits to what a cow can be – a cow can only be a cow,” says Mr Brown. “We can make anything.”
Warning: Burger porn…
Patrick Brown, Founder and CEO
USA (Palo Alto)