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Cultured Oil is Coming For Fast Food

September 20, 2023
x min read

Fast food is getting in on cutting out seed oils.

And they’re doing it with the help of a brand new concept: cultured oil.

What’s happening:

  • San Mateo based startup Zero Acre has invented a new type of oil they call cultured oil, which relies on a fermentation process to produce cooking oil without using any seed oils
  • They’ve recently announced a partnership with Shake Shack to begin using Zero Acre oil in two of their locations as a pilot project
  • The new partnership is the first time ever a fast food restaurant chain has adopted Zero Acre oil as a replacement for traditional soybean oil

Why it matters:

  • Zero Acre is backed by some of the biggest venture capitalists in climate tech and food tech, including Lowercarbon Capital, Virgin Group, Chipotle’s Cultivate Next Fund and Robert Downey Jr’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures
  • Seed oils, also known as vegetable oils, have been linked to a variety of long term health issues such as obesity and diabetes
  • Further, seed oils have a harmful impact on the environment, including soil pollution and deforestation

Going deeper:

  • The intersection of climate tech and food tech has become more pronounced recently, especially with cellular agriculture gaining momentum as a potential answer for methane emissions
  • Seed oils are consumed more than beef, chicken and cheese combined globally
  • Vegetable oil crops, such as soy and palm, emit more greenhouse gases per kilogram than any other crop
  • Fermentation and cellular agriculture offers a unique new production method and new alternative to traditional seed oils, with a far smaller environmental footprint

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