Photo: Lisa Dyson

We’ve all probably seen research on how plant-based protein has a lower environmental impact than protein from animals. But what if an even more sustainable source of protein was quite literally all around us?

Dr. Lisa Dyson, CEO of Air Protein (a spinoff of Kiverdi), is making edible protein out of — you guessed it — air. Specifically carbon dioxide. (For more info on the logistics of how they do this, check out our post from this summer.)

Dyson will be speaking about this innovative new protein source onstage at the Smart Kitchen Summit {SKS} next week alongside Perumal Gandhi of Perfect Day and Michele Fite of Motif Foodworks. Check out our quick Q&A with Dyson below then grab your tickets now — there are only a few left!

What gave you the idea to experiment with making protein out of carbon dioxide?
My colleague Dr. John Reed and I discovered NASA research conducted on long space flights, where they investigated closed-loop carbon cycles that could feed astronauts and sustain them for the length of their missions. My team and I took this technology off the shelf and developed several closed-loop carbon solutions that are scalable for the global marketplace.

Here on earth, our current way of producing cannot sustainably keep up with the demand of our growing population. And we will have to sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050. I see this as one of our most significant global issues, which is why we launched Air Protein, which, we believe, is one of the most sustainable solutions to feeding our growing population without putting a strain on natural resources.

How will Air Protein change the way we eat?
We are already seeing a shift from animal-based protein to plant-based protein diets for both environmental and health reasons. Air Protein provides an additional step in the right direction: from land-based protein to air-based protein. Air Protein is sustainably produced from the elements found in the air we breathe and requires minimal land and resources. In fact, an Air Protein farm the size of Walt Disney World would make as much protein as a soy farm the size of Texas.

So if consumers want to minimize their footprint, eating delicious foods made from Air Protein will be the way to do it in the (near) future. And, it does this while being nutritious, having all the essential amino acids needed for a healthy diet and the same amino acid profile as animal protein. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 which is lacking in a vegan diet. One in three Americans considers themselves a flexitarian. Air Protein will enable consumers to make the choices they are increasingly interested in making: eating delicious, healthy foods without the footprint.

Do you see Air Proteins main application being in space, or here on Earth?
It can (and likely will) be for both. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have paved the way for consumer awareness and excitement about meat alternatives with plant-based products that replicate the flavor and texture of meats. We believe air-based foods is the next evolution of the planet-based movement and to feed 10 billion people, we are in need of radical new food solutions — ones that use less of our planet’s resources. Air Protein offers such a solution.

Want to hear Dr. Dyson speak about her futuristic vision of feeding the world with protein made from thin air? Make sure to see her TED-style talk at SKS in just over a week! Tickets here.

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