"We need to start thinking about the future of food if we are going to feed 9 billion people in a way that does not destroy our environment." -- Bill Gates' recent Facebook post
Our food system is broken. And it's eroding our values and the environment with equal ferocity.
Want absurd? The animals we eat consume more food than the 1.3 billion people who go to bed hungry every single night. And by 2050, all the animals we eat will themselves consume as much food as 4 billion people. Just a thought, but I'm guessing all that food would be more effective in the stomachs of the 16,000 children dying every day from hunger-related causes. Eighteen percent of all GHG emissions flow from this same place: animal farming.
At the very heart of the answer to all this absurdity is a central question: How can we feed a growing world without destroying our environment -- and our values? See, as smart folks like Bill Gates know, as population grows in the developing world, a desire for meat (and the inefficiency that comes along with it) will only grow. We need to start thinking about the future of food today that doesn't involve the resource intensity of raising animals tomorrow.
And a revolution in food is about to break open -- in fact, it's already started. Hampton Creek, a company I co-founded with my best friend last year to develop plant-based eggs, is honored to have been selected by Bill Gates and his team as one of three companies leading this reinvention of food. The Future of Food, a Gates-led special on our food system, was just released on the official website of Bill Gates -- gatesnotes.com. you should watch. And then talk about it with your family.
In writing about Hampton Creek and others, Gates said: "Beyond Eggs, an egg alternative from Hampton Creek Foods, does away with the high cholesterol content of real eggs." And, "... companies like Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek Foods and Lyrical [plant-based cheese] are doing some amazing things." Here's a featured video on his Future of Food special:
Why do we focus on eggs? And why a plant-based alternative? Because of the 1.7 trillion eggs laid in the world last year, over 95 percent came from female chickens who are confined in battery cages, small wire enclosures that afford each hen a space smaller than a single sheet of letter-sized paper. The hens are fed massive amounts of corn and soy, both crops that would be better off in the mouths of a hungry world. It's an outdated and inefficient system. We think the world deserves better.
My best friend once said: "We didn't move on from the horse and buggy because of morality alone." I think he's right.