Technically Food by Larissa Zimberoff
Inside Silicon Valley's Mission to Change What We Eat
I also felt compelled to read about the types of foods I now see at my favourite restaurants, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and futuristic foods that I've read articles about, like Soylent. The articles I've read are typically short, and most likely sponsored by the very foods I'm reading about, so the depth of information is pretty surface level.
I was hoping this book would give me a more in depth look at the new food wave taking over our restaurants, and give me more of an idea of what exactly I'm putting into my body when I eat these foods. The author, Larissa Zimberoff, promises "the first comprehensive survey of the food companies at the forefront of this booming business." Technically Food claims to examine the trade-offs of replacing food with technology-driven approximations, with the chapters diving into algae, fungi, pea protein, cultured milk and eggs, upcycled foods, and so much more.
Larissa's own journey began when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Her education started when she was told how to calculate the grams of carbohydrates in a meal, an important factor for those with diabetes. She states, "my knowledge gives me an edge: I understand food on a molecular level. I think of this as my superpower."
It was so interesting to learn about the different kinds of algae, how they benefit us, and how startup companies have tried (and failed) to bring them to market.
An example Larissa gives in this chapter is Soylent, perhaps one of the most well-known brands on the new foods market. She states, that this product, which "originally included algal oil, became one of the first truly weird foods out there."
|According to their website, "each Soylent product contains a complete blend of everything |
the body needs to thrive."
In the algae chapter, I loved learning about the various startups that are incorporating this abundant and nutritious food. One in particular that Larissa touches on is Nonbar, from a company called nonfood. The name was enough to intrigue me to look it up. I was planning to order one but according to the website, they're sold out. So either the product is too hot of a commodity, or they stopped selling it. Nonbar states that it's "the first nutrition bar with algae as its primary ingredient."
Perhaps the chapter I found the most interesting was the plant-based burgers one, since these burgers seem to be just about everywhere these days. From Beyond Meat to the Impossible Burger, they appear to be the hottest menu item at most restaurants I frequent in Vancouver. Larissa talks about both of these companies in the book, stating that "the plant-based meat category grew by 29 percent in the past two years, to $5 billion." It seems like a lot, especially considering that traditional burgers only grew by 2 percent. Zimberoff asks, why are investors betting that these new iterations of the meatless burger can succeed where others have failed? And what does our obsession with burgers in all their forms tell us about ourselves?
The book concludes with, what are we eating in twenty years? Larissa leaves us with some important questions.
About the Author
|by Winni Wintermeyer|
Larissa Zimberoff is a freelance journalist who covers the intersection of food, technology, and business. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and many others. Zimberoff often presents on, moderates, and leads panels on food tech including at Stanford, reThink Food at CIA/Napa, and IACP. She splits her time between San Francisco, California, and New York City.