© 2023 Fantastic Fungi, LLC
The planet’s most extreme environments are home to some fascinating creatures. Just look at underwater volcanoes, which scientists have found to be hotspots of undersea life. On dry land, volcanic geysers are also teeming with weird and wonderful lifeforms. And it turns out that those organisms are delicious. Fungi based meat is something new and can change they way you think of hamburgers!
While doing research for NASA, some scientists stumbled on a previously unknown microbe living in a volcanic geyser in Yellowstone National Park. They were intrigued by the unique characteristics of the microbe, which led to further research. They found that by using a newly developed fermentation method, they could make a meatless burger that was not only edible but also tasty. They called it Fy, and created a company called Nature’s Fynd to develop the discovery into a viable meat alternative.
Maybe it was the volcano origin story, but for whatever reason, the company caught the attention of investors and has managed to raise $160 million.
Meat alternatives have been gaining public acceptance and have even achieved a measure of mainstream success. Several fast-food chains have plant-based burgers on their menu, and companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have captured the attention of the media and the public with their plant-based offerings.
Interest in plant-based meat alternatives is growing, you could say.
But a microbe is not a plant, and fermentation is not the usual way to make meat-free foods. What Nature’s Fynd is doing benefits from the increased public interest in plant-based foods, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Instead of plants, they use micro-organisms, like fungi.
Beef production is resource-intensive, requiring large amounts of land and water. When compared to a plant-based diet, meat consumption requires way more resources. As our global population grows and we look for ways to feed more people with the same amount of land, it makes sense to look for alternatives to meat. Instead of sourcing our food from one-ton beasts, we can use up to 99% less land by cultivating microbes.
That same process that makes meat-free burgers can also be used for other foods, like breakfast patties and dairy-free cream cheese.
The future of fungi based meat may just be microbial.