Plant Blood: Impossible Foods Takes On Meat

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by Tim Manners,
October 10th 2014

A new kind of veggie burger leaves a residue "of what looks like blood," reports Evelyn M. Rusli in The Wall Street Journal (10/8/14). It also "has the same distinct metallic taste." When raw, "it looks like a jumble of tissue with some lighter fat-like pieces mixed in," and when it hits a hot pan it sizzles and gives "off the aroma of meat cooking." Take a bite, and "it is distinctly pink in the very center … The texture is slightly lighter, perhaps fluffier than a typical burger, and it tastes less bloody. But the bites still have the consistency of animal tissue."

Patrick Brown, founder of Impossible Foods, has backing from Bill Gates, among others, and his goal is to "create a more sustainable source of food." "Livestock is an antiquated technology," he says. At his lab, "technicians dump large vats of fresh spinach leaves and other plant matter into a giant blender that breaks down the greens into plant proteins. Elsewhere, machines rapidly cook raw ground meat and send blasts of smells to scientists, who carefully log the characteristics and strength of each smell."

They’re reaching for "the fundamental, molecular reasons why meat tastes like meat" by deconstructing "the hundreds of basic flavors and smells of cooked ground meat." The goal, says Patrick, is not to improve veggie burgers as we’ve known them, but to get "the hard-core beef lovers" who otherwise wouldn’t eat anything but the real thing. The burgers may appeal less to vegetarians, who may not want to be reminded of meat, or avoid processed foods. Currently testing the burgers via food trucks, Patrick hopes his burgers will be in stores next year.

Tags: Lexicon Impossible Foods Patrick Brown Maraxi