Los Alamos Helps ‘Impossible Foods’ Save Environment

Impossible Foods CEO and Founder Pat Brown

By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
kirsten@ladailypost.com

When Pat Brown founded his company Impossible Foods in 2011, he set a high-level objective: to eradicate the consumption of meat from animals by 2035.

Turns out several businesses in Los Alamos are helping Brown achieve this goal. During a virtual presentation Tuesday night, which was part of ScienceFest, Brown revealed several local restaurants including Sirphey, Pajarito Brew Pub and Cottonwood on the Greens serve dishes with Impossible Burger and Impossible Sausage.

Impossible Foods also can be found in large chains. Smith’s Food and Drug in White Rock and Los Alamos carry its products and Starbucks, including the Los Alamos store, sell food items with Impossible’s plant-based meats in them.

In fact, it was reported during the presentation that Los Alamos tops the charts by having the highest consumption of Impossible’s plant-based meats per capita.

Also, Brown told the Los Alamos Daily Post after the presentation Tuesday that Shirphey is one of his oldest customers.

During an interview with the Daily Post, Sirphey Owner Prashant Jain said, “We are one of the first people in the country to accept their product … the reason we ended up approaching them is because we have a 100 percent eco policy and we strive for eco sustainability.”

Shirphey Communications Director Cortni Nucklos wrote the restaurant’s eco policy. She explained that policy was developed in 2016 in response to the nation’s recycling and eco policies being turned upside down after China amended its regulations for what it would and would not accept for recycling.

For instance, she said the restaurant only uses plant-based materials such as sugar cane for its utensils and containers. Nucklos added that which foods Shirphey should serve also was considered.

What attracted Shirphey to Impossible Foods, she said, was the fact that their foods have higher protein than traditional meat and it can be safely consumed from raw to well done.

Impossible Foods has even won over the restaurant’s meat lovers, she said.

Just what is inside these meatless meats?

During his presentation Brown explained Impossible Foods, right now, offers Impossible Burger and Impossible Sausage. These two items are made from plants including coconut oil, potato protein and soy protein. What advances his meats from a typical veggie burger, Brown said, is a molecule called heme (short for soy leghemoglobin). Heme is found in myoglobin, one of the most abundant proteins in animal tissue, and Impossible Foods uses the hemoglobin found in soy, a leguminous plant.

Heme, he said, is a magic ingredient. It is the catalyst for the reactions that transform simple nutrient molecules into meat flavors.

Not only does Impossible offer a healthier alternative to animal meat, which can win over the most steadfast meat eater, it can help save the planet, Brown said.

Livestock has had a “catastrophic” effect on the environment, he said. Grazing fields leads to massive deforestation and livestock have helped significantly reduced amount of the planet’s biodiversity, Brown said.

He pointed out based on biomass, “cattle alone outweigh every other wildlife invertebrate by more than a factor of 10. They are, in biomass, the dominant species in the planet.”

Rather than trying to persuade people to reduce their meat consumption or give it up entirely, Brown said he wanted to provide a different option.

It would be impossible, he said; people don’t want to give up something they love. Instead, Brown said he wanted to give people a better option.

Livestock, he said, is a “ridiculous technology”. Not only is it prehistoric but it is destructive and economically inefficient. Impossible Foods, in contrast, is delicious, nutritious, and made from cheap, abundant material.

Therefore, Brown said he feels reaching the goal of eradicating traditional meat by 2035 is feasible.

“History says when you have a better technology … the change happens fast,” Brown said. “It is a slow, steady process.”

If interested in purchasing its food items directly from the source, visit https://buy.impossiblefoods.com/.

For a complete schedule of Science Fest events, click here.

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