Hampton Creek is a food technology company that seeks to change the global system of food production by starting at the source, replacing animal products with plant-based ingredients. By researching thousands of species of plants, Hampton Creek’s food scientists identify plant proteins that can mimic the properties of animal products or other unhealthy ingredients they want to replace. Much of their research so far has been dedicated to making egg replacements.
An egg is an extremely versatile food – consider the variety of ways an egg can be cooked on its own, and how it transforms a recipe. Eggs emulsify oil and water or other liquids, they bind ingredients, and they help blend and strengthen a cake batter. But the production of eggs requires too many resources and causes too much pollution to be an eco-friendly practice. An egg farmer has to use a large amount of land and water to grow corn or another grain to feed the chickens. This makes food containing eggs very expensive in terms of resources. A crate of 210 of Hampton Creek’s egg-free cookies uses 2,000 fewer gallons of water and 7 fewer square meters of land to produce than the same number of conventional cookies.
Moreover, egg farming creates pollution from the animals’ waste. In modern factory farms, the chicken population density is very high, as is the amount of manure they produce. In fact, chickens produce as much manure on a daily basis as the amount of grain it takes to feed them. When farmers inject the chickens with an antibiotic arsenic compound, a common practice, the arsenic is excreted in the manure. That manure is then washed by rain into the nearby surface and ground water. Ammonia gas is another pollutant from chicken waste. It is produce with the manure reacts with a bacteria present in the litter of the henhouse. The ammonia is toxic to the chickens, and it is toxic to humans when it is vented into the outside air.
Hampton Creek’s first egg substitute, Beyond Eggs, is made from the Canadian yellow pea. It is the key ingredient in the company’s flagship product “Just Mayo,” an eggless mayonnaise. Their chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie doughs, called Just Cookie Dough, are made with sorghum as the binding agent. Both of these plants are inexpensive to produce and much less harmful to the environment than egg cultivation.