Guest: Jeff Nobbs | Founder & CEO | Zero Acre Farms
Category: 🍏 Sustainable Food | Cooking Oil
Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[2:26] JN: "Diet [is] at the center of this chronic disease epidemic we [find] ourselves in, where more adults than not in this country, unfortunately, have a chronic disease and 4 in 10 American adults have multiple chronic diseases. So 40% of the country essentially has dementia and diabetes or heart disease and cancer. And that doesn't seem right and it seems like we should do something about that. And I think diet is the best tool we have to try to impact those rates in a positive way."
[7:45] JN: "The CDC says, there are only a few things that really contribute to chronic disease primarily: alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, physical activity, poor diet. And when you look at those four things, we've actually been doing a better job across all of them. [...] We're doing what we're supposed to be doing yet, chronic disease rates continue to skyrocket. And the one major food that has increased in line with increasing rates of chronic disease are vegetable oils. That means canola, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, palm oil, the list goes on and on."
[9:03] JN: "The issue is these vegetable oils are everywhere. They're nearly in everything we eat. They're about a fifth of all calories we consume. Vegetable oil crops are the fastest growing sector of global agriculture. And then they're leading to all sorts of health issues and environmental issues. Two of the top three drivers of global deforestation are vegetable oil crops."
[14:14] JN: "The issue is especially when it comes to vegetable oils, including olive oil, it's just not a very efficient process of producing oil. [...] We clear a bunch of land, unfortunately most of that land is often in very biodiverse regions like rainforests. [...] We plant seeds. We wait six months for those seeds to grow. We pluck the tiny seeds from those plants, press them for an even tinier amount of oil. And then that oil is ultimately what's put into a bottle and and sold as vegetable oil. So it has this really negative environmental impact."
[14:51] JN: "We grow an entire plant just to depress its tiny seed for oil. And those seeds or grains, they're only like 5 to 25% oil. Whereas when you look at producing oil by fermentation, which is what we're leveraging, the micro organisms that make up that fermentation culture are 80 to 90% oil."
[15:29] JN: "Fermentation is the process of a community of microorganisms, or culture, [...] and they transform sugars and other plant materials into the things that come to love like bread, [...] yogurt and [...] beer. Turns out, there are also cultures that produce oil. And so these communities of microorganisms, instead of producing lactic acid, or carbon dioxide, or other fermentation products, they produce healthy fats. And it's a really incredible and efficient way of producing oil. And it results not only in this really low environmental footprint, because it's so efficient, but also in a really incredible healthy fat profile. [...] And it just tastes really good too. [...] We decided to call it culture oil."
[17:03] JN: "The production of cultured oil requires about 10 times less land than oil crops. We're working to get to zero. The name Zero Acre Farms is a reflection of our goal."
[19:20] JN: "Vegetable oil is the most consumed food in the world after rice and wheat. And we're making more of this stuff every year globally than beef, chicken, cheese, and shrimp combined. [...] And because it's doing so much harm, there's also this massive opportunity to have a really positive impact if we can replace all these vegetable oils with something else. [...] We think fermentation is the way to get there, but even if some fraction of our mission is achieved, the impact would be really really enormous."
[21:44] JN: "What we're really excited about with cultured oil is that it's [...] the one oil to rule them all. Because it stays liquid in the fridge, you can make a salad dressing or marinade, and it won't clump up in the fridge. And [...] it's very stable at high heat. So you can really use it for everything. Every other oil just requires some sort of compromise or sacrifice."