Wake Up Call

Are Eggs Becoming Obsolete?

Ask Bill Gates about the future of food and he'd probably point you to his website, where, through info-graphics and interviews, he lays out the argument that we should all be getting protein off our plates.

In the presentation, he mentions a company called Hampton Creek Foods, which is working not only on an egg substitute, but also an entire line of egg-less food products. The San Francisco-based start-up already has raised some $6 million in funds, according to the Wall Street Journal, from venture capitalists including Khosla Ventures, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, and, you guessed it, Bill Gates. And its egg-free mayonnaise already is being used at Whole Foods stores across the country.

See also: Baking with Organic Eggs: A Series on Local Pastry

The company's CEO, Josh Tetrick, is a vegan who says he founded the company, in part, because of his feelings about animal welfare. But that's not what he's selling people on when it comes to his products.

Hampton Creeks Foods' main selling point is that 1.8 trillion eggs are laid globally each year and that 70 percent of the cost of an egg goes back to chicken feed. Tetrick says that makes eggs a particularly inefficient product.

So Hampton Creeks Foods wants to change that by replacing eggs with plant-based substitutes. And that's not all. Tetrick says he wants to make egg-less foods that taste better and cost far less than their original versions.

It might sound like pipe dream (or a freaky sci-fi nightmare), but Hampton Creek already has debuted an egg-free mayonnaise that's cheaper and supposedly tastes just as good as regular mayo. The product costs Whole Foods 10 percent less than what it was using previously, according to Forbes, which is why many stores have switched to using Hampton Creek's product in their store-prepared foods.

The company will also debut its egg-free cookie dough in February. According to several reports, including NPR's Allison Aubrey, the product is pretty damn near perfect.

All the buzz has egg producers understandably on the defensive. In fact, the American Egg Board launched a campaign "Accept No Substitutes" touting the "unique nutritional properties and contribute desirable functional attributes unequaled by any single egg alternative."

Of course, for hardcore food lovers and those dedicated to the all-natural mindset, it doesn't matter how good a fake tastes, it will still always be a fake. The question remains to be seen if producing extremely cheap alternatives will be enough to change people's minds.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria