Silicon Valley Embraces Innovation in Sustainable Foods

A plant-based egg ingredient (on the left) Courtesy Hampton Creek Foods

“The food industry is broken,” says Josh Tetrick, a 32-year-old entrepreneur who’s creating plant-based egg replacement products that could one day disrupt the global egg industry. His 11-month-old company, Hampton Creek Foods, is working out of a food lab in the South of Market area of San Francisco, just a few blocks from such Internet startups as Twitter, Zynga, and Airbnb. During a tour of the lab this week, Tetrick’s lovable golden retriever and unofficial company mascot, Jake, was parked good-naturedly on a bright red couch in the lobby, underneath a photo of Bill Gates eating a muffin made with Hampton Creek’s egg-free baking product. It’s a feel-good sort of place.

Johan Boot and Joshua Tetrick of Hampton Creek Foods
Courtesy Hampton Creek Foods
In Hampton Creek’s lab, Tetrick’s staff of 19—armed with a combo of science degrees, chef experience, and food industry chops—are obsessing over eggs. What gives an egg—the result of a chicken menstrual cycle (eeww)—its unusual characteristics, and how can those characteristics be replaced with a combination of plants? The team has worked on more than 344 prototypes for their egg-yolk product and have studied 287 types of plants that range from peas to canola.

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