Eggs – No Hen Necessary

Michigan Musings

Natural plant proteins mimic the properties and taste of eggs to be used in manufacturing foods.

Published on: March 18, 2013

Incredible, edible eggs – in addition to our scrambled, over-easy and poached breakfast favorites, they also provide the glue that keeps our meatballs from becoming mush and our cookies from crumbling. It's irreplaceable… or is it?

What if we could take the hen out of egg production? I realize that's a risky proposition for an editor of a farm publication, but when we're talking projections of about 9 billion people on this planet by 2050, it's an intriguing concept.

Wait, it's no longer a concept. Hampton Creek Foods out of San Francisco, Cal. has developed an egg substitute called Beyond Eggs.

Really? I wondered if I might be able to track someone down at this company. Remarkably, I found a few articles about this product on the internet and also a discussion thread where the CEO of Hampton Creek Foods actually responded to some comments on Beyond Eggs -- even leaving his e-mail address. Wow, you don't see that kind of disclosure all that often, particularly with anything controversial. So I zipped off an e-mail and within hours, I got a response. And, the next day, I had a nice chat with CEO Josh Tetrick.

He's a highly energized, 32-year-old visionary that might be onto something. He's got the attention of a couple Fortune 500 companies, including one that is doing a product launch with Beyond Eggs this spring.

So what exactly is Beyond Eggs? Tetrick put together a team of food scientists, chefs, biochemists, and molecular biologists to deconstruct the egg, and analyze its 22 special functions. They searched and tested hundreds of plant-based alternatives looking for that same sticking magic and taste of nature's hailed perfect food. The result – the team produced a grayish-green powder that can be hydrated to get the job done. It's true make up is proprietary, but Tetrick says the team looked at pea, chickpea, rape seed, sorghum, several varieties of algae and tree gum, to name a few. Together, this concoction of natural plant proteins mimics the properties and taste of eggs. Tetrick even goes where no other has gone before and says that in some circumstances, "it even surpassed the egg – particularly in mayonnaise." Ouch… hens, you best sharpen your claws, them's fightin' words.