Which came first: the chicken or the egg? At San Francisco-based Clara Foods, the visionary team answers the question by removing the chicken from the equation. The sustainable food company’s CEO, Arturo Elizondo, recently spoke with Inverse about the company’s groundbreaking work creating egg whites without chickens.
Clara Foods uses biotechnology to harvest protein identical to that of egg whites purely from plants. Synthesizing microorganisms from yeast, the company has produced several types of plant-based egg whites intended for a variety of uses.
Arturo Elizondo explained to Inverse:
We asked ourselves, “Which [proteins] are the ones for baking? Which foam the best? Which make the lightest meringues and angel food cakes? Which proteins are the best binders out there so you can make really sturdy gluten-free products?”
The company hopes that its product will replace traditional egg whites in pastas, baked goods, and protein supplements.
Clara Foods was the first company from IndieBio, a biotechnology accelerator, to raise its seed round of $1.75 million in 2015. The company’s motivation to create an animal-free egg white is twofold: the growing market for egg whites—now more than $3 billion—and consumers’ growing concerns for environmental, animal welfare, and public health compromises of large-scale egg production.
Current farming practices require 600 gallons of water to produce just over a dozen eggs. Clara Foods aims to substantially reduce the amount of water and land required to produce egg whites while eliminating the risk of foodborne illness, including avian flu and salmonella poisoning.
Elizondo explained in a recent press release, "From the onset, Clara was founded on a fundamental belief that we can cultivate a better and safer food system using technology.”
If you are looking to create plant-based or "clean" (i.e., cultured) alternatives to animal products, learn how The Good Food Institute can help.