Environment Health Science

Google on Quest to Make the World Meat-Free

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Google wants to transform the world’s eating habits by introducing delicious alternatives to meat.

Reportedly, the company recently tried to buy Impossible Foods, maker of a plant-based cheeseburger, for between $200 million and $300 million. The deal reportedly didn’t go through, but it looks like the attempted acquisition of Impossible Foods is part of Google’s desire to develop technologies that help humanity as a whole.

Impossible Foods focuses on developing meat and cheese alternatives made entirely from plants, and hopes to unveil its Impossible Burger later this year. Their flagship project is said to be so similar to meat that it even bleeds, just like a meat patty cooked medium-rare.

Impossible, whose high-powered list of angel investors includes Bill Gates and Google executive Tony Fadell, is one of several startups trying to develop more sustainable foods that are less reliant on animal products.

Google’s interest in Impossible Foods is not the first time Google has dabbled with meat alternatives – in 2013 Sergey Brin invested heavily in a technique for growing a beef burger from stem cells in 2013 dubbed the “frankenburger”. Its creator, Dutch scientist Mark Post, claimed it could revolutionize the food industry and help save the planet. His burgers are created in a four-step process. First, stem cells — which have the power to turn into any other cell — are stripped from cow muscle, which is taken during a harmless biopsy.

Next, the cells are incubated in a nutrient “broth” until they multiply many times over, creating a sticky tissue. This is then bulked up through the laboratory equivalent of exercise — it is anchored to Velcro and stretched.
Finally, 20,000 strips of the meat are minced and mixed with salt, breadcrumbs, egg powder and natural red colourants to form an edible patty. Food writer Josh Schonwald said of the patty: “The absence is the fat. But the bite feels like a conventional hamburger. What was conspicuously different was flavor.”

Sergey Brin summed up his interest in meat alternatives by saying: “There are basically three things that can happen going forward – one is that we can all become vegetarian. I don’t think that’s really likely. The second is we ignore the issues and that leads to continued environmental harm and the third option is we do something new. Some people think this is science fiction – it’s not real, it’s somewhere out there. I actually think that’s a good thing.”

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“Google on Quest to Make the World Meat-Free”