What would be the best way to deliver nutrition to the 7.1 billion odd people on this planet? Science would tell you that it is not the animals. Researchers at the Not Company (NotCo) which is a food-tech startup based at Chile have developed food products that is no longer based on animal ingredients but entirely based on plants. They use machine learning technology to develop tasty, nutritious and affordable plant-based food. However, the food looks and tastes like the classic (animal-based) food. This concept has been around for 10 years and one of the reasons for its failure is that people still prefer locally produced food.
What then makes the Not company products special? Founders Matias Muchnick (Engineer), and Karim Pichara (Harvard research associate), along with biochemist Isidora Silva have built an artificial intelligence model named “Giuseppe” that is programmed to become the smartest food scientist on earth.
“Giuseppe” uses deep machine learning techniques to understand food at a molecular level, it also learns the human perception of taste, flavour and texture of specific foods and develops a data set. Now, using the algorithm called Giuseppe, they recreate clever plant-based recipes that emulate the taste, flavour, texture of an animal-based product. For eg. food products like milk/cheese whose texture, flavour and taste is like milk, but is actually a bunch of plants that is mixed together to replicate the nutritional and sensorial experience of dairy milk, thus making it sustainable/vegan!
The entire process is complex but it is designed so that Giuseppe understands the human perception of taste, and texture perfectly while delivering tasty and affordable nutrition using less water, less land, less energy, and without the need to cultivate harmful bio systems like animals. To add to the features, Giuseppe also understands the availability and use of resources for every single plant in the company’s database.
The software’s ability to create plant-based recipes that reconstruct a given molecular structure has no registered match. They were invited to Harvard and Berkeley to showcase their designs.
The main motivation behind their work is that classic animal farming requires massive amounts of land, resources, drives deforestation and is a major cause of global warming. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, livestock contributes enormously to climate change through the emissions of Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Overall the livestock sector is contributing 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emission, according to the UN.
“When you get behind the scenes of the food industry, you don’t like what you see. There is a lot of things that we should be knowing… but we are blindsided by a whole industry that is making it really hard for us to see what we are really eating,” says Matias Muchnick.
“We want people to eat better, but without even knowing. That’s the main objective of the Not Company,” Muchnick says.
Giuseppe’s work indicates that henceforth, we should not be feeding plants to animals in order to get our meat, cheese, milk, and eggs; but we should be using plants to actually make them!
Check this video where the team of the Not Company talks to Al Jazeera about their work, their goals and their vision for the future of the food industry.
Source: Al Jazeera