Thursday, August 22, 2019

Polis pitches Impossible Burger, and people are mad

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 9:21 AM

click to enlarge Burger King recently began serving Impossible Foods' Impossible Burger. - COURTESY IMPOSSIBLE FOODS
  • Courtesy Impossible Foods
  • Burger King recently began serving Impossible Foods' Impossible Burger.

"Have you tried Burger King’s new Impossible Burger?" Gov. Jared Polis wrote in an Aug. 15 Facebook post. "Right now it costs $1.00 more than a beef [W]hopper, and like many consumers, I can’t tell the difference on taste; but with new technology and efficiency it’s only a matter of time until a similar product costs less than beef."

Polis recently met with state Department of Agriculture staff and encouraged them to think about ways to address market demand for plant-based proteins, Colorado Politics reports. He didn't issue any specific directives, but offered meat-free Impossible Burgers to staff at the department's new research facility.

Some Colorado ranchers took the comments as a slap in the face.

The Colorado Livestock Association, for one, released a statement with the headline: "Colorado Governor starts food fight with farmers and ranchers."

"For the Governor to suggest that Colorado agriculture begin focusing on growing vegetables for plant-based proteins is confusing to the farmers and ranchers who have worked the land in rural Colorado for decades," the statement says. "Not only because Colorado’s arid climate doesn’t allow for growing the extensive list of ingredients in plant-based burgers and alternative proteins, but also because Colorado’s beef industry contributes so much to the state’s economy."

Impossible Foods' "Impossible Burger," which Burger King recently began serving (Bloomberg reports it's available in 15,000 restaurants and food service locations), contains soy and potato proteins, coconut and sunflower oils, and methylcellulose, a common culinary binder. The company, one of several rapidly growing plant-based protein companies, is valued at around $2 billion, Bloomberg reports.

The Impossible Burger could soon come to supermarkets as well — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently gave preliminary approval to the company's use of soy leghemoglobin, a color additive, for retail sales.

In 2017, agriculture (including livestock, agricultural soils and rice production) contributed to 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Livestock account for about a third of agriculture-related emissions, due to the methane they produce as part of their digestive processes.

But the Colorado Livestock Association argues that ranchers can't just switch from cattle to soy and potatoes.

"Livestock producers utilize grazing land that is too mountainous, dry or nutrient poor to be farmed and would otherwise go unused," its statement says. It adds that the technology used in beef production today is the "most efficient and sustainable in history."

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