Credit: MIT

The future of food discussion is often focused on ways to make popular food products and ingredients in a sustainable and healthier way.┬áThe road to meeting the demand for more natural foods is filled with constraints; a supply chain that can’t always deliver natural ingredients and prices that consumers don’t always want to pay. That’s why some companies are turning to a well-worn technology, used commonly by brewers to make beer and cider.

Food companies like faux-meat startup Impossible Foods and cow-free milk producer Perfect Day are using fermentation-like processes along with food science to create natural ingredients in unusual ways.

A recent piece from Fortune explains,

Scientists identify the desired genes in a plant or animal and insert them into a host such as yeast. The yeast is fed sugars and nutrients to stimulate fermentation. Then the yeast and its genes are filtered off, and the desired ingredient is purified out of the remaining broth.

When we think of food technology, we often think of gadgets and instruments used to cook and order our food, but the work happening in food science to create foods that taste and look like the real thing is perhaps some of the most interesting. If we think about the food system broadly and the challenges the world faces – including shortages and harmful climate impact, this kind of food tech will lead the way in driving real solutions.

The big question, as Fortune points out, will be whether or not consumers will buy into fake meat that’s meant to look and taste like the real thing, or cow’s milk that’s made without the cow – or sugar that doesn’t come from a plant.