Impossible Burger: Meatless Burgers As Good As The Real Thing!?
In doing some research for a recent episode of the Citizens of Tech Podcast which I co-host with Ethan Banks I came upon a project / product called the Impossible Burger that really piqued my interest. Here’s the quick and dirty on it.
- Plant based ground beef alternative
- Developed by “Impossible Foods”
- Founded by a Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown
- This isn’t a just a pseudo-meat for vegetarians and vegans, either
- Target market is hardcore carnivores
- We’ve discussed a few times about the amount of water, electricity, and other resources required to meet the global demand for meat
- This product requires far less resources, has a drastically shorter time-to-table and should become price competitive in the near future – hopefully even becoming cheaper than the real deal
- Apparently, if the article is to believed, the taste is incredible
- The author noted that it was a bit less flavorful than real beef, but had he not known that it wasn’t meat, he wouldn’t have noticed.
- Looks pink and marbled uncooked, sizzles on the grill/pan, juicy and has real meaty flavor
- The flavor secret: Heme
- Heme is an iron-containing molecule in blood that carries oxygen
- Legumes contain leghemoglobin which could have been used… buuuut…
- Extracting that is expensive, time consuming and still unearths carbon, which is one of the main goals of finding an alternative product
- Technology to the rescue!
- They took the gene responsible for producing heme from the soybean and added it to yeast
- Now they can make vats of the magic ingredient
- One vat is enough to make 20,000 1/4lb (~110g) patties!!
- It even smells right
- Using gas chromatography mass spectrometry
- Cooked meat gases were analyzed
- Dozens of scents combine to smell like meat, which have been replicated
- VS Beef:
- More protein
- Less fat
- Fewer calories
- No cholesterol
- No animals were harmed in the making of this burger (religious & ethical objections quelled)
- They’re not the only game in town: Beyond Meat’s “Beyond Burger” is targeted at very much the same goal.
- Brown calls the “Beyond Burger” a “home run” and sees plenty of room in the market for both of these players – with Beyond Burger targeting grocery stores first and Impossible Foods going for restaurant chains first.
Impossible Burgers: Made Possible By Science
So what’s your take on this? Are you ready to sink your teeth into a nice, juicy Impossible Burger that is purported indistinguishable from the real thing? I think this is the first truly interesting “meat alternative” product that has made me sit up and say “woah, I really want to try that!”, how about you?