Science

Microbes found in Yellowstone’s hot springs are being turned into protein to make vegan hamburgers

A Chicago startup is using microbes sourced from hot springs at Yellowstone National Park to make vegan meat for hot dogs, nuggets and hamburgers.

Nature’s Fynd is using extremophiles, which is a fungal strain capable of surviving in extreme environments and produces high levels of complete protein when grown in a controlled setting.

Transforming the tiny microbes into protein starts by feeding them glycerin and starches, and finishes with a fermentation processes that results in ‘Fy Protein.’

Fy is an animal-free complete protein that contains all nine amino acids and is high in fiber and vitamins, and uses less land and soil to create than traditional protein.

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A Chicago startup is using microbes sourced from hot springs at Yellowstone National Park to make vegan meat for hot dogs, nuggets and hamburgers

Traditional proteins, such as pea and soybeans or cows and chickens, require large amounts of land, energy and water to produce, along with methods that are time-consuming.

However, Nature’s Fynd’s method can be done in a single 35,000 square-foot facility and microbes are constantly reproducing.

Nature’s Fynd CEO Thomas Jonas told Food Navigator: ‘Microbes can double [their biomass] in a matter of hours and the ‘growing season’ is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.’

‘There is this growing realization that microbes are pretty damn efficient.’

Nature's Fynd is using extremophiles, which is a fungal strain capable of surviving in extreme environments, like Yellowstone's hot springs (pictured)  and produces high levels of complete protein when grown in a controlled setting

Nature’s Fynd is using extremophiles, which is a fungal strain capable of surviving in extreme environments, like Yellowstone’s hot springs (pictured)  and produces high levels of complete protein when grown in a controlled setting

Transforming the tiny microbes into protein starts by feeding them glycerin and starches and finishes with a fermentation processes that results in 'Fy Protein.' Fy is an animal-free complete protein that contains all nine amino acids and is high in fiber and vitamins, and uses less land and soil to create than traditional protein

Transforming the tiny microbes into protein starts by feeding them glycerin and starches and finishes with a fermentation processes that results in ‘Fy Protein.’ Fy is an animal-free complete protein that contains all nine amino acids and is high in fiber and vitamins, and uses less land and soil to create than traditional protein

‘They make great protein and they do it really fast, you don’t have to plant a seed and harvest it sex months later, and you can completely control the environment.’

Karuna Rawal, CMO for Nature’s Fynd, told Cowboy State Daily that the idea came from the firm’s co-founder Mark Kozubal in 2009.

Kozubal was a student researching extremophiles at Yellowstone National Park under a research permit, support by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

‘He collected samples from an acidic hot spring without causing any negative impact on the area,’ Rawal said. 

‘In fact, we never have to go back to Yellowstone for another sample because we ferment the microbe called Fusarium Strain Flavolapis to create Fy, our nutritional fungi protein.’

The team invented a liquid surface fermentation technology to grow Fy, which uses trays in standing towers that are placed inside a growth chamber. There microbes are fed nutrients to kick start the high protein formation and in a few days filaments grow and interlace, forming texture similar to muscle fiber in a mat-like structure

The team invented a liquid surface fermentation technology to grow Fy, which uses trays in standing towers that are placed inside a growth chamber. There microbes are fed nutrients to kick start the high protein formation and in a few days filaments grow and interlace, forming texture similar to muscle fiber in a mat-like structure

The key to transforming the microbes into protein is the fermentation process Nature’s Fynd uses.

The team invented a liquid surface fermentation technology to grow Fy, which uses trays in standing towers that are placed inside a growth chamber.

There microbes are fed nutrients to kick start the high protein formation and in a few days filaments grow and interlace, forming texture similar to muscle fiber in a mat-like structure.

From the trays, filaments are steamed, pressed, rinsed and sliced, allowing them to be turned into a liquid, solid or powder to create a variety of foods.

A video produced by the company claims the Yellowstone microbes can produce ‘really delicious all-purpose foods that are perfect for feeding anyone, anywhere, anytime without the need for sun, rain, or soil.’

‘Perfect for all 8 billion of us,’ the narrator said. ‘Which means together we can give the earth a breather and let it rest.’


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