GOOD

Finnish company making food of the future out of thin air

A new report from the United Nations warns that climate change is threatening to shrink our global food supply. Extreme weather such as droughts and floods plus our own exploitation of natural resources might prevent the human race from being able to feed itself. The report also shows we are losing soil between 10 and 100 times faster than soil is forming. But one company in Finland might have found the solution.

Start-up company Solar Foods is ready if the day ever comes where we finally consume all of our resources thanks to a new protein powder they've created based on a concept by NASA. The company pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by using carbon capture technology, then adds water, nutrients, vitamins, and electricity to the CO2, triggering a fermentation process that's not too different from beer, according to CNN. The finished result is a white, powdery, high-protein substance known as Solein.


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Solein sounds like the food of the future that we've seen in science fiction movies. It looks kind of like flour, and just like flour, can be turned into other foods. It can also be used to boost protein in current foods without making it taste any different, just in case the idea of eating raw protein powder sounds unappealing.

Solar Foods claims Solein is the "most environmentally friendly food there is," and it might live up to those claims. Since Solein is literally pulled out of thin air, it doesn't consume natural resources. The carbon-neutral process removes CO2 from the atmosphere instead of releasing it. It also doesn't have the same limitations as agriculture and it's not as problematic for the environment as the meat industry. And while certain crops can only grow in certain environments, air is everywhere. According to Solar Foods CEO Pasi Vainikka, Solein would allow us to "disconnect food production from agriculture," he told Food and Wine.

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Because Solein can be made from the air we breathe, it gives us options. If resources like land and water become scarce, we can still have food thanks to Solein. If we have to completely abandon the wasteland we've turned the Earth into and live in space, Solein can feed us there, too.

What's the future of this futuristic protein? Solar Foods wants to start selling Solein by 2021, with the aim to produce two million meals made from the product, Dezeen reports. The company is applying for a novel food license from the EU so that it can go into commercial production. Solar Foods envisions Solein as an environmentally sustainable plant-based meat alternative and wants to use it to boost the protein in other meat-alternatives, like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.

Innovation
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