Could plant-based protein help solve hunger? Thanks to Redwood City startup Impossible Foods, meal centers run by local food banks are now serving the Impossible Burger, a plant-based food that looks, tastes, and sizzles deliciously like meat. According to Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, the company wants to address food insecurity. “We want to give back to the communities where we live and work.” To do this, the food-tech business recently started donating its plant-based meat to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.
Donations of the product (made in Impossible Foods’ East Oakland manufacturing plant) will be ongoing, with exact quantities determined as the need becomes clear. In Alameda County, one in five residents benefits from the food bank, which relies on a network of 200 food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community organizations to distribute food.
Food bank staff are thrilled to have a steady supply of protein-rich food donations, since these are typically the most expensive and least donated items. The Impossible Burger boasts more protein than a conventional burger at a tiny fraction of the environmental footprint. Largely made of wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and heme (the iron-containing compound that gives meat its meaty smell, sizzle, and taste), it has no hormones, antibiotics, or cholesterol.
Local chefs Chris Kronner of KronnerBurger in Oakland and Rocco Scordella of Vina Enoteca in Palo Alto held a training session with chefs at area food banks, creating recipes ranging from meatballs to tacos. Appelgren says the meal center chefs are cooking the meat in huge sheet pans and adding it to sauces, pastas, and chili. “Chris Kronner is doing delicious Impossible breakfast sandwiches these days,” she adds, “so perhaps we’ll see the Impossible Burger pop up on breakfast menus at the meal centers.”
Impossible Foods got its start in 2011 with funding from Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates, Google Ventures, and others. Among its ambitious goals is to end the institutionalized use of animals in our food system by 2035.
The chefs’ training session is portrayed in this video (password: impossible), and you can try an Impossible Burger at East Bay restaurants KronnerBurger, Duende, Ben & Nick’s, Drakes, and others. For more about the Impossible Burger, read our Summer 2017 story: here
At right: The Impossible Burger is terrific served on a bun, and the plant-based meat is also a hit in sauces, tacos, and chili.