The world is estimated to have a population of over nine billion people by the year 2050. Such a large number of people would require plenty of essential resources in order to stay alive. Food is one of those essential resources. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 70 percent more food than is produced now will be needed to cater to this new population size.

Overpopulation is a legitimate threat to the well-being of the inhabitants of Earth. Our natural resources are being depleted more quickly; yet at the same time, we require more of those natural resources. We are playing all of our cards and not getting enough back to play again. At any level of overpopulation, people will always need food for sustenance. That is why research in sustainable foods is becoming more popular.

Impossible Foods is an organization set out to create and provide food that tastes great, is good for you and most importantly, does not have a negative impact on the environment or one’s health. Impossible Foods was started by a Stanford University scientist and has since grown in size to 50 scientists. These scientists look at animal products at a molecular level, and then select specific proteins and nutrients from greens, seeds and grains to recreate meat.

Impossible Foods is severing the connection between animals and meat. We have relied on animals to make our food for us in an unsustainable way. Impossible Foods found a better, more humane way of going about creating meat in particular. On its website for example, one can find a picture of an appetizing cheeseburger, crafted only out of plants. That’s right, both the cheese and the burger were made completely out of plants.

Progression in this field of technology can lead to solutions to the foreseeable overpopulation problem. Our current ways of providing food to the masses is becoming inefficient and is under performing. Companies like Impossible Foods are coming up with ways to increase our food production while maintaining the integrity of the land.

Erik Nelson

Sources: Impossible Foods 1, Impossible Foods 2, CNBC, Sustainable Solutions Development Network
Photo: Kickstarter

Vegan option. Meat alternative. Fake meat. From labels to a wide array of dishes conceivable, a slew of faux-meat products are not new to the market. Yet the innovators at Beyond Meat have created a faux-chicken alternative that is described to look, feel and more importantly, taste like chicken.

Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown and his team have high ambitions for their product—hoping to market the faux-chicken in the meat aisle section of the grocery stores as opposed to being placed alongside tofu and other vegan options.

Whole Foods, a distributor of Beyond Meat, currently sells the meat alternative product although not necessarily in the meat aisle section.  Currently, Beyond Meat’s beef alternative is in the process of wide release.

Located in Columbia, Missouri, Beyond Meat has in its employ, Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff, University of Missouri professors who have spent a decade developing their pea protein and soybean based product into imitating a chicken-y likeness.

A study found the likeness of a food is just as important as the actual ingredients within regarding drawing consumers to meat options.

The process requires cooking the protein mixture in varying degrees of temperatures, which is then lengthened into strip to be grilled at the end of the process. In total, the method requires 90 minutes of cooking time in comparison to the energy and time it takes to produce factory farm chicken.

As a result, the chicken-like muscle fibers have drawn the attention of individuals such as Twitter Founder and long time vegan Biz Stone, former president Bill Clinton and even former professional boxer Mike Tyson.

A United Nations Environment Programme study reports that agricultural livestock is the source of 25 percent of green house gasses (GHG.) With the rising increase of meat consumption towering over production, satisfying meat consumers proves to largely be unsustainable. Meat consumption from 2009 to the next 40 years is predicted to increase by 65 percent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Furthermore, about 50 percent of the water used in the United States alone goes towards raising livestock. A pound of chicken can use up to 468 gallons of water.

At $5.29 per package, Beyond Meat’s faux-chicken product hopes to draw a wide appeal given the chemicals infused in the market variety meat products as well as the environmental impact of our meat-eating tendencies.

Beyond the environment, Oxfam America’s GROW Campaign aims to diminish global hunger by reducing meat consumption. The land usage and water consumption that essentially drives meat production which results in a competition for the world’s resources. For this reason, individuals living in dire poverty levels face the brunt of meat consumption. Reducing a meal to meatless staves off pressure to the Earth’s resources and saves what would otherwise have been an equivalent of 12 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Pretty soon, the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, will prove irrelevant. Beyond Meat hopes to revolutionize our diet beyond meeting our carnivorous choices.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Al-Jazeera, Care2, Farm Progress, Huffington Post Taste, Huffington Post, Slate, CNN, Oxfam America
Photo: Joe-Yonan