The incredible, edible egg...we grew up eating eggs for breakfast as did our parents and grandparents before us as well as our children after us. Deliciously rich cakes were made with eggs. Eggs were deviled. I even put an egg in hamburger meat before cooking it. Where would we be without the egg? That is a question that could soon see an answer.
For quite some time there have been complaints regarding the treatment of egg laying hens in commercial facilities. The battery cages in which hens are kept have long been a source of controversy, and in an effort to do something about the inhumane treatment of laying hens, the idea to simply get rid of the egg was posed. As strange as that may sound, Hampton Creek Foods is attempting to eradicate the need for eggs by creating fake eggs. The goal of Hampton Creek Foods is to replace actual eggs used in cooking with plant based matter. They have studied how eggs are used and how eggs actually cook, and have come up with ways to replicate the egg with something else entirely.
The question that remains, however, is would you eat an imitation egg? As society has become increasingly concerned with what they put into their bodies, expecting people to accept yet another \'fake\' food product seems like quite a stretch. As Genetically Modified Organisms make the news on a regular basis and are met with hostility, it hardly seems like people will be willing to jump on the bandwagon of another engineered food product. In spite of this, Hampton Creek Foods presses on, citing the cost effectiveness of fake eggs over real eggs and citing the money saved in fake egg production over feeding chickens that produce actual eggs. Their research has been quite extensive and they have plenty of support; Bill Gates himself has funded this start-up.
Plant-based eggs are shelf stable, cheaper to make (and thus cheaper to sell), and have no cholesterol. Currently Hampton Creek Foods has come up with 11 plants that have properties to lend to egg making. Their efforts at duplicating the way eggs act in food preparation (such as emulsifying in mayonnaise) have been given positive reviews. They have made cookies with fake eggs that were indistinguishable from cookies made with real eggs and are even trying to duplicate a cooked scrambled egg. There is a very interesting video on their website if you are interested in seeing them in action.
While it is tough to fathom a world without eggs, I must say the research is rather intriguing, although also somewhat scary. Food engineered in a lab, even if it is engineered by plants, is a little bit of an overwhelming concept. It will be interesting to see where this research goes although it will be something else entirely to see how it tastes.