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Why Bill Gates Is Investing In Chicken-Less Eggs

Posted by on Jun. 13, 2013 at 5:14 PM
  • 41 Replies

Why Bill Gates Is Investing In Chicken-Less Eggs

Audio for this story from will be available at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET.

At left: Beyond Eggs' egg-substitute product, a powder made of pulverized plant-based compounds. Right: Mother Nature's version.

At left: Beyond Eggs' egg-substitute product, a powder made of pulverized plant-based compounds. Right: Mother Nature's version.

Cody Pickens/Beyond Eggs

The egg of the future may not involve a chicken at all. In fact, in the high-tech food lab at Hampton Creek Foods in San Francisco, the chicken-less egg substitute has already been hatched.

"We're trying to take the animal totally out of the equation," , founder and CEO of , told me.

Hampton Creek's egg substitute product is called Beyond Eggs. It's made from bits of ground-up peas, sorghum and a few other ingredients, and it's attracting the attention of high-tech investors including Bill Gates.

If you listen to my story on All Things Considered, you'll hear that it's pretty hard to distinguish between cookies made with Beyond Eggs and those made traditionally with real eggs. The company has also developed an eggless mayonnaise and salad dressing using its egg substitute.

And why does this matter? Well, investors like Gates are betting that our planet can't sustain the current rate of growth in animal-based foods for too much longer.

In 2000, the global demand for eggs was about 14 million tons, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. By 2030, that's expected to climb to 38 million tons.

Hampton Creek founder Josh Tetrick is hot on the trail of the chicken-less egg.

Hampton Creek founder Josh Tetrick is hot on the trail of the chicken-less egg.

Cody Pickens/Beyond Eggs

This is part of a broader global trend: As nations become wealthier, people begin to eat more animal products. In fact, the annual per capita consumption of meat has doubled since the 1980s in developing countries, and meat production is projected to double again by 2050, according to FAO report.

"Raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact," Gates . (Note: The Gates Foundation is a funder of NPR's coverage of global health). "Put simply, there's no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people," Gates concludes.

A big part of the environmental footprint of eggs and meat (as this shows) is the amount of water and land it takes to grow the grain that's fed to animals used in food production. There's also the fossil fuel energy needed to produce and transport the products.

So increasingly, innovators are looking to develop plant-based alternatives. For instance, is producing a meat-substitute product that's gaining a lot of attention. And there are more companies marketing egg-substitute products, such as and .

"Egg replacements are not something new," says food scientist and food industry consultant of Corvus Blue.

But she says what is new is the growing global demand for plant-based foods.

"Today, having an egg-replacement or non-egg label [on a packaged food] is very appealing in the food industry," says Shelke.

There are lots of reasons behind the eggless appeal. Fake eggs don't raise the same food-safety concerns (as we , a salmonella outbreak linked to eggs sickened 1,600 people in 2010). And some consumers also worry about food allergies and the cholesterol found in eggs.

So, what's Tetrick's next challenge in bringing his plant-based egg one step closer to the real thing? He wants to perfect his version of the scrambled egg. So far, it's been tough to get the texture right, he says: His eggs tend to crumble into little pieces in the mouth.

If you want to see how Hampton Creek's eggs scramble up, take a look at this video.

YouTube

Neon Washable Paint

by on Jun. 13, 2013 at 5:14 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jun. 13, 2013 at 5:16 PM
12 moms liked this

Seriously, I am beginning to wonder if soon the majority of the human race will be eating shmeat, fake eggs, and processed GMOs while these plutocrats get to enjoy the last tiny bit of real food on the planet.

stormcris
by Christy on Jun. 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM
3 moms liked this

I just cannot see this as being a good idea. The soil has a very important property that the chickens get through what they eat and it is thus transferred into properties in the egg. I am glad I own chicken and turkeys for that matter.

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Jun. 13, 2013 at 5:29 PM
You mean, besides being a total moron?
survivorinohio
by René on Jun. 13, 2013 at 5:59 PM
Quoting kailu1835:

You mean, besides being a total moron?
I am not at all fond of Gates but thats extreme even for a hater like me lol!

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Jun. 13, 2013 at 6:20 PM
What, the moron comment? He is. He is absolutely brilliant when it comes to computers, but an utter moron when it comes to other stuff. He stated out loud for everyone to hear that he supports vaccination because it contributes to a smaller population (total paraphrasing here, I don't remember the exact wordage).

Quoting survivorinohio:

Quoting kailu1835:

You mean, besides being a total moron?

I am not at all fond of Gates but thats extreme even for a hater like me lol!
survivorinohio
by René on Jun. 13, 2013 at 6:25 PM
Quoting kailu1835:

What, the moron comment? He is. He is absolutely brilliant when it comes to computers, but an utter moron when it comes to other stuff. He stated out loud for everyone to hear that he supports vaccination because it contributes to a smaller population (total paraphrasing here, I don't remember the exact wordage).

Quoting survivorinohio:

Quoting kailu1835:

You mean, besides being a total moron?

I am not at all fond of Gates but thats extreme even for a hater like me lol!
He has said and done a whole lot I dont agree with.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


diospira
by Bronze Member on Jun. 13, 2013 at 6:46 PM
1 mom liked this



Quoting kailu1835:

What, the moron comment? He is. He is absolutely brilliant when it comes to computers, but an utter moron when it comes to other stuff. He stated out loud for everyone to hear that he supports vaccination because it contributes to a smaller population (total paraphrasing here, I don't remember the exact wordage).

Quoting survivorinohio:

Quoting kailu1835:

You mean, besides being a total moron?

I am not at all fond of Gates but thats extreme even for a hater like me lol!

I am pretty sure that these are his exact words. To me, calling him a total moron is too kind.



"The world today has 6.8 billion people... that's headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."


meriana
by Platinum Member on Jun. 15, 2013 at 4:08 AM

Well fake eggs will make the PETA folks happy. They're always pointing out how much land, water, etc. it takes to feed the animals that provide food and support being completely vegitarian as that will save the lives of the animals. I always wonder though, unless we kill or sterilize them all, all those animals will still exist and still be reproducing so what is it exactly that they'd suggest doing with them?

Della529
by Matlock on Jun. 15, 2013 at 4:18 AM

 I see this as something similar to an article I read in the December 2010 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek titled "Cutting Danger by Playing with Fire".

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 15, 2013 at 4:18 AM

Personally, I don't choose to buy eggs from factory farmed chickens:


For much the same reason as I don't choose to buy chocolate that contains beans grown using child slave labour.

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