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Finnish Company Claims to Conjure Protein-Rich Food Out of Thin Air

Air + water + electricity = unicorn investment

Solar Foods claims to make protein rich food out of water, air, and electricity, improving food’s environmental impact and carbon footprint Solar Foods [Official Photo]

Water + microbes + air = venture capital

Finnish company Solar Foods is the latest potential culinary unicorn that claims to unearth a process capable of producing large-scale nourishment for a world in need of a climate-friendly alternative to current means of production. This time, it’s waterborne microbes + hydrogen + carbon dioxide = high-protein powder that can be 3D-printed into whatever shape food companies and investors may desire. It’s being tested in space. It seems legit.

Solar’s powder, Solein, joins Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat in not just producing a new kind of food, but actively marketing it as an environmental, and thereby ethical good, with designs on bettering agriculture and aquaculture. It posits a “new” system of consumption despite, naturally, depending entirely on existing frameworks of factory production, supply, demand, logistics, and infrastructure, and tacitly rejects the idea that solutions to the global food system’s limitations lie in improving and/or redistributing the existing system.

Solein breaks from the burgers based on plants in that it does not suggest an extant product — lentils, or peas, or beans — need a middleman to promote environmental salvation and turn legumes into patties; it’s also way behind in terms of development. Where it remains consistent, is that it suggests novelty provided by Silicon Valley and its offshoots is the world’s only route to alimentary salvation. Now that really does sound impossible. [Guardian]

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