Zero Acre Farms' new era of healthy oils and fats
Zero Acre Farms - a San-Francisco-based start-up backed by members of the Branson family - is working to develop healthy and sustainable alternatives to destructive vegetable oils.
The company has raised $37 million in funding, including from a number of leading climate and food investors, to help bring its first product to market with a range of alternative healthy oils and fats - made by fermentation, not deforestation.
Vegetable oils - including soybean, sunflower, canola, and palm oil - are now the most consumed food in the world after rice and wheat with the average American consuming an estimated 5–10 tablespoons of vegetable oil per day. They are the fastest-growing sub-sector of global agriculture, and present in nearly all restaurant meals and packaged foods, making them difficult for most people to avoid.
The global increase in vegetable oil consumption is the single largest dietary change of the last 100 years and has been linked to increased rates of obesity and chronic disease, including heart disease - now the leading cause of death in the world.
The global production of vegetable oils was an estimated at 200 million metric tons in 2020 and is projected to reach 260 million metric tons by 2026. Growing these crops takes a massive toll on the environment. More vegetable oils are produced globally than all beef, chicken, shrimp, and cheese combined, contributing to record rates of deforestation and carbon emissions. In fact, the cultivation of soybean and palm oil as vegetable oil crops now accounts for two of the top three causes of global deforestation. Zero Acre Farms seeks to reverse that trend. According to CEO, Jeff Nobbs:
“Fermentation is the original culinary art, after fire. We use this ancient technique to produce oils and fats with significantly lower levels of the bad fats that have been linked to inflammation and disease, and a fraction of the environmental footprint. We’re proud to be the first company stepping up with the mission to completely remove industrial ‘vegetable’ oils from our food system.”
“Eliminating vegetable oils is a critical step in preventing chronic disease,” adds Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition and a Zero Acre Farms advisor. “I’m honoured to advocate for Zero Acre Farms and hope that by spreading awareness about the devastating effects of vegetable oils, more people will find healthier and more sustainable alternatives.”
To learn more about the science behind different oils and fats, register to join Zero Acre Farms’ virtual summit called the ‘Future of Fat’ on March 3.