You know, we’re not just here to run measurements for the sake of running measurements.
This is about having an impact. How can we improve the lives of people who haven’t had access to truly nutritious food? How can we solve the problems of an unjust food system 1,000 times faster? That’s why we’re all here. Because we really do believe we can do this.
It first requires us to see the diversity that farmers have seen for thousands of years. We have so much more in nature's toolkit than corn and animal protein and processed sugar. Over 300,000 species are in the plant kingdom. That’s over 18 billion proteins, 108 million lipids, and 4 million polysaccharides. It's an abundance almost entirely unexplored, until now.
So, we literally started to explore them by hand. The first step was to go out into the world and identify the different plants that we might want to use, bring them in, and build a diverse plant library. We’ve sourced plants from over 51 countries around the world, from South America to South Africa to sweet sorghum from Kansas.
It’s an abundance almost entirely unexplored, until now.
We look at a vast range of molecular properties and ask questions. What is the protein yield of the plant species? What is its thermal stability? Does it bind, or brown, or gel quickly in a pan? Does it melt like butter? And, most importantly, does it make our family recipes taste even better? Using automation with our robots, we are able to speed up this process five to six times faster than what we could achieve before.
In so many ways, it's the art of science and culinary kind of coming together. We are seeing things that no chef, no food scientist, has ever seen before.
The more we explore, the more data we gather along the way. And the faster we'll find the answers. It’s almost impossible to look at the data and say, “Here’s a pattern. Here’s an answer.” So, we have to come up with algorithms to rank the materials and give downstream experiments a recommendation. In this way, we’re using data to increase the probability of discoveries.
As we do that, we'll help make food that nourishes. Food that strengthens the planet. Food that is accessible to everyone else – and food that tastes better than everything else.
We have a long way to go, but it's worth it.