by Jackson McNeill
July 31, 2015
Google has been working on everything from driverless cars, to social media, to smartphones. If technology is involved, Google probably has a hand in it. But so far, Google has not shown an appetite for projects outside of the technology world, much less in the culinary market.
That’s why many eyebrows were raised this week when it was discovered that Google had offered to buy a small veggie burger startup for $200-$300 million. According to The Information, who broke the story, the deal was only scuttled because the company wanted more cash.
The startup, called Impossible Foods, allegedly makes a veggie burger that tastes, looks, and even bleeds like real hamburger meat.
The burger, which should be available next year, is already receiving positive reviews. Even a skeptical reporter at The Wall Street Journal reported that it tastes “somewhere between beef and turkey.”
“What’s wild about eating Impossible’s burger,” the Journal continued, “is that unmistakable yet hard-to-define sensation in your brain: what you’re eating appears to be something red-blooded that walked around before.”
Impossible’s creators, meanwhile, say they are trying “to give people the great taste and nutritional benefits of foods that come from animals without the negative health and environmental impact.”
And they have a point. In general, meatless burgers are healthier then their animal-made counterparts, require less water to produce, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and require less acreage to create the same amount of product.
But that still does not explain why Google was interested in the startup.
Sergey Brin’s involvement may offer some explanation. Brin, one of Google’s co-founders, has already expressed intense interest in finding an alternative to the world’s high level of meat consumption, which he sees as unsustainable. He even personally invested in a project to grow hamburger meat from stem cells in 2013.
“There are basically three things that can happen going forward,” Brin said. “One is that we can all become vegetarian. I don’t think that’s really likely. The second is we ignore the issues and that leads to continued environmental harm. And the third option is we do something new.”
It’s speculated that Impossible Foods would have been assimilated into Google X, which Sergey Brin manages. Google X is a division of Google with the funding and authority to work on almost any interesting or wild innovation. Google X has already received widespread publicity for its development of Google Glass and its work on Google’s self-driving cars.
With the failed bid for Impossible Foods, however, it appears Google’s bid to make the world a sustainable and meatless place will remain uncooked, at least for now. With Brin at the helm of Google X, however, look to see Google make another foray into sustainable foods sometime soon.