the person you ask,” says Celeste Holz-Schietinger, Principal
Scientist at Impossible Foods. “An example was Impossible
taco meat made with very high levels of heme; it was so livery.
Some people liked it, but I couldn’t stand the taste.”
The burger taste, though, they can count as a success. I
would certainly eat another, as it tasted similar enough to other
burgers and has zero cholesterol, which I should probably cut
down on. It was about even with a quarter-pound beef patty in
terms of calories and protein, though the sodium level (from
all the preservatives) is off the charts.
Laura was fairly ambivalent, neither loving or disliking it.
She would not try another.
The real surprise was Travis, who had this to say:
“The taste was remarkable, honestly. I’ve been a vegetarian
for my entire adult life, which means I haven’t had a burger
actually prepared by a chef in a little over 20 years. While the
quality of frozen veggie patties has improved dramatically over
that time, their overall favor remains static and mild. I rely on
condiments to give it any real taste.
“Having a real, chef-prepared burger, though, reminded
me why I ever liked burgers in the frst place, and why friends
and coworkers always buy them in otherwise nice restaurants.
It was delicious—it was an original, fresh, and altogether
His one gripe was on the texture, which he called “ex-
The cattle industry is in as much danger from this faux
fauna as plastic injection molding is from 3D printing. That’s
not to say Impossible Foods and competitor Beyond Burger,
don’t have a niche to fll. They both come in frozen patties,
with the latter already available in grocery stores.
Impossible Foods doesn’t seem far behind.
“Our mission is to transform the global food system,” Brown
says. “It’s a huge opportunity, so we’re embarking on one
of the largest scale ups in the history of the food industry,”
To that end, they have scaled from about 300,000 lb./month
to now around a 1 million lb./month in their Oakland facility.
Chris Gregg, VP of supply chain, says the process is similar
to dairy and frozen dinner prep on the upstream, and conventional burger-making on the backend. The heme made from
yeast combines with the fat emulsion, and vegetable and
protein mixture, and hydrated.
Even though E. coli isn’t a risk here, they play it safe and
operate under beef guidelines, with an 8-hour sanitizing period
and extensive swabbing program.
“Should this be overkill for now, that’s OK with us,”
Gregg says. “It is safe to eat raw. I actually like the taste,
which is a little salty, just like beef.”
In September, just over 50 restaurants served the
Impossible Burger; now there are more than 250. The
biggest challenge now is to match beef’s price point, which
Gregg is confdent they can do as they get more familiar
with the process and can excise any ineffciencies. The
emulsion, for example, may be cheaper to make offsite.
And current manufacturing tech may hasten that
“Being able to do something like this today is more an
opportunity than it ever has because of AI and automation and the ability to quickly measure performance and
iterate based on that,” Gregg says.
While no amount of yeast and genome sequencing will
probably ever recreate a perfectly cooked medium-rare
flet mignon, Impossible Foods has proved that a suitable
stand-in for ground beef is achievable. And what it represents makes the breakthrough all the more exciting.
Remember, if you will, the early hybrids of yestermil-lennium—1997 to be exact. Toyota released the frst
hybrid, the Prius, on a small scale. Sure, the Captain
Planets among us jumped at the chance to drive one to
save the Earth, even though aesthetically they were a bit
lacking and in terms of power, 80 HP is impressive only
to a Vespa owner.
Now Tesla’s totally electric new Roadster looks amazing
and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 1. 9 seconds. Even
the most devout gearhead would take it out for a test
drive. That’s 20 years of progress.
If Impossible Foods keeps improving, it could transform
the landscape of food manufacturing, and vastly purify
the atmosphere. That’s a shame here in Cleveland, as
global warming sounds like a dream come true. The
40% of the world’s population who live by oceans might
disagree, I suppose.
One thing we can all agree on is that we should probably be using agricultural land for human food, and not
our food’s food.
And that’s the area Impossible Foods has the supreme
advantage: rapid evolution.
“We’re getting better every day,” Brown says. “The
cow is not.”
(For more go to:
Looks can be deceiving. This may look like a regular burger, but it was made from all these non-mooing
ingredients on the right.