Protein from air and leaves!
Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, there’s a company making meat substitutes from the air! Talk about low cost ingredients! Elements of the air are whisked together with biological cultures until they produce protein within a matter of hours. According to Air Protein, the company pioneering this new technology, “ We believe climate change and food scarcity can be reduced by reimagining food creation. Our groundbreaking process is carbon negative, massively scalable, and can happen virtually anywhere.”
Air fermentation begins with the same building blocks that all plant life needs and renewable energy. The protein that the cultures produce is harvested and purified, then dried to remove water. The result is a super-clean, protein-packed flour—nutritious, versatile, and ready to be turned into any meat substitute. Finally, in a process much like the way you might turn flour into pasta, they apply culinary techniques to Air Protein flour to create textures and flavors that give air meat the same taste and texture as traditional chicken, beef, pork, and seafood.
Another new company producing novel plant-based protein, this time from leaves, is Leaft Foods. Their product uses a protein known as RuBisCo (which for the chemically inclined stands for ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase) found in green leaves. In effect, every time you eat spinach, kale, alfalfa sprouts or any other leafy green, you’re eating RuBisCo. Unlike most other plant proteins that come from the grain of a crop, they have developed a food-safe technology that extracts RuBisCo protein from leaves in a form that is highly digestible for people. Experiments in their home kitchen and hours trawling through the literature on leaf protein validated the concept.
Leaft Foods has created value for eaters and farmers and aligns this with positive environmental outcomes. Since launching in August 2019, Leaft Foods has tenaciously followed its purpose of creating food systems that provide for humanity in partnership with the environment. According to Leaft, “our technology opens up a new way of food production that taps into one of the world’s most abundant and sustainable food sources.” One of the founders of the company, Maury Leyland Penno, says that the global food industry must change in order to responsibly feed a rapidly growing population while protecting the planet, and they want Leaft Foods to be part of the solution.
We look forward to learning more about new ways that companies are producing plant-based protein we can use as replacements for animal based protein.