Remove Vegetable Oil from our Diets? Zero Acre Farms is Fixing to Try That
By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media (April 19, 2022)
NOTE: This article first appeared in our sister publication, GAI News
The realities are staggering. Today, due to our diets, 60 percent of American adults have one chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, and 40 percent have more than one. Incredibly, at a time when scientific advances should mean longer lifespans, our healthy life expectancy has decreased for the first time in recorded history.
Aligned with these trends is an increase in our consumption of industrial vegetable oils including palm, sunflower, soy, cottonseed, corn, and rapeseed (canola) oil. Today, these oils are in everything - even things we don’t expect - such as practically all packaged foods, salad dressings, margarines, sauces, sprays, spreads, chips, and almost every restaurant meal. They are not only shown to cause cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, among other health conditions, but vegetable oil crops emit greenhouse gas emissions that are 5-25 times those of other agricultural crops.
As much as 30 percent of the world’s agricultural land (300-425 million hectares, or as much as 1 billion acres) is dedicated to cultivating these crops. But demand for greater cultivation continues to climb, resulting in deforestation at the rate of a football field being destroyed every second. In 1947 the world counted 6.2 million square miles of tropical forests - today only 36 percent remain intact.
The loss to our biodiversity from deforestation is also tragic and finite, at a rate of 137 species of plants, animals, and insects every day, and 50,000 species going extinct every year. It is also a threat to our own species. Zero Acre Farms cites a case in 2015 where the smoke caused from clearing of rainforests for oil palm plantations is estimated to be the cause of 100,000 premature deaths.
Zero Acre Farms is on a mission to eliminate these oils from our lives, stating that “we’re destroying our environment to grow foods that kill us”. If successful, the startup stated that it envisions not only a drastic reduction in chronic diseases and obesity, but also a dramatic reduction in climate change and the restoration of natural ecosystems.
In support of this mission, the startup has raised an oversubscribed $37 million Series A, co-led by Lowercarbon Capital and Fifty Years, and including S2G Ventures, Virgin Group, Collaborative Fund, Robert Downey Jr’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures, and Chef Dan Barber, among others.
But how does Zero Acre Farms intend to accomplish its goal? Through a process that is thousands of years old - fermentation.
"Fermentation is the original culinary art, after fire," said Jeff Nobbs, co-founder and CEO, Zero Acre Farms. "We use this ancient technique to produce oils and fats with significantly lower levels of the bad fats that have been linked to inflammation and disease while having a fraction of the environmental footprint. We're proud to be the first company stepping up with the mission to completely remove industrial 'vegetable' oils from our food system."
Used for millennia to make bread, wine, beer, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi, fermentation has the power to make oils that have no negative effects on our environment and have significantly lower levels of disease-causing fats.
Zero Acre Farms wants what it calls these “no harm oils” to become the go-to option for home cooking, food manufacturers, and restaurants.
“Our dream is for everyone everywhere in the world to be able to enjoy the foods they love without destroying their health or the planet’s,” stated the company. “Fat makes food delicious, and delicious food doesn't have to be unhealthy or unsustainable — nor require a sacrifice.”
The Zero Acre team is partnering with climate scientists, nutritionists, chefs, doctors, doctorates, and celebrities to spread their message and mission. As part of this initiative, the company is hosted a virtual summit on March 3 called the “Future of Fat” to discuss the science and conflicting information about different oils and fats.
"Eliminating vegetable oils is a critical step in preventing chronic disease," commented Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition and a Zero Acre Farms advisor who presented at the event. "I'm honored to advocate for Zero Acre Farms and hope that by spreading awareness about the devastating effects of vegetable oils, more people will find healthier and more sustainable alternatives."
Images provided by Kanenori and Ulrike Leone at pixaby.com.
- Lynda Kiernan-Stone is editor with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and Agtech Intel News, as well as HighQuest Group's Oilseed & Grain News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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