Air Protein creates a meat substitute from elements found in the air, in just a matter of days. It’s easy on the planet, too. Olivia Palamountain reports
In fantastical echoes of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just a bit of bread and fish, San Francisco-based food tech company Air Protein has created a meat substitute from elements found in the air around us.
The pioneering NASA-inspired concept uses renewable energy and a probiotic production process (harnessing microbes called hydrogenotrophs) to convert elements such as carbon dioxide into a nutrient-rich protein flour.
This flour is then combined with water and added minerals to create a “meat” that has the same amino acid profile as an animal protein and is full of B vitamins (something vegan diets are often lacking).
As we know, the world is struggling to feed us all. The United Nation Food and Agricultural Foundation (FAO) predicts farmers will need to increase food production by 70 per cent with only 5 per cent land increase to meet the expected growing population of ten billion people by 2050.
Air Protein meat is made without the need for traditional land, water and weather requirements, making it a neat solution to this crisis. Additionally, Air Protein flour can be made in a matter of days instead of months, in the sorts of fermentation vessels you might use to make yogurt or beer.
Growth occurs through a proprietary probiotic production process where the hydrogenotrophs are able to consume the CO2 and other elements to produce amino acids. While crops require months to go from seed to harvest, Air Protein’s probiotic production process is ready for harvest in hours.
“The statistics are clear. Our current resources are under extreme strain as evidenced by the burning Amazon due to deforestation and steadily increasing droughts. We need to produce more food with a reduced dependency on land and water resources. Air-based meat addresses these resource issues and more,” says Air Protein CEO, Lisa Dyson.
“The world is embracing plant-based meat and we believe air-based meat is the next evolution of the sustainably-produced food movement that will serve as one of the solutions to feeding a growing population without putting a strain on natural resources.”
Meat substitutes are big business – and becoming more sophisticated every day. As reported by The Guardian, the difference with the new fake meats is that, thanks to developments in food technology, many of them have become uncannily realistic in both texture and appearance.
All the major supermarkets are now pushing increasingly plausible meat-free versions of animal proteins, from “flaky” fish to burgers oozing with blood-like beetroot juice.
In Tel Aviv, SuperMeat, experiments with the production of “cultured chicken meat” from its own consumer-facing research facility (aka restaurant), the Chicken, where guests can tuck into burgers grown in a lab next door. Read Globetrender’s full story here.